Monroe County schools cut jobs
By Sarah Plummer Register-Herald Reporter The Register-Herald
Some Monroe County School employees face job cuts in attempt to prevent a deficit in fiscal year 2011.
Monroe County Superintendent Dr. Kevin Siers said that he hand delivered letters to those employees who were available at all five county schools and the school board office on Dec. 22.
“Approximately 65 employees were given a letter, but that does not mean that 65 jobs were lost,” he said. “Some people are being transferred into another position or may be doing several jobs and one of those is being eliminated.”
In total, about 30 to 35 positions will be cut, reported Siers.
The superintendent cited five years of declining enrollment and the subsequent decline of state funds. A state-run efficiency study for the Monroe school district noted headcount enrollment has decreased from 2,015 in 2007 to 1,945 in 2010.
“The goal for the next school year is to employ numbers to match the state funding. We were forced to take this action because the state sent a team down to do an efficiency study and we were spending more money than we were taking in. They made this suggestion among others,” he asserted.
At the request of Siers, a committee from the West Virginia Department of Education, including Assistant State Superintendent Joseph Panetta, reviewed Monroe County School finances on Sept. 21.
Their report reads: “Monroe County has experienced a declining fund balance over the past four years, falling from $1.7 million in fiscal year 2007 to $270,000 in fiscal year 2010, without considering the substantial reduction in fund balance due to OPEB (other post employment benefits) costs.”
The unreserved fund balance of $270,000 represents 1.8 percent of total expense fund expenditures; the state suggests that school districts allow 3 percent fund balance for unexpected needs.
The state found that the school would be in a deficit by the end of fiscal year 2011 unless immediate action was taken.
The state Department of Education ultimately recommended that the county examine bus routes, facility efficiency and issues surrounding the enrollment in lunch and breakfast plans in addition to keeping the employees within the numbers funded by the Public School Support Program.
Although the state’s financial studies were conducted without considering OPEB liability, a major portion of that liability is expected to be funded through the Public School Support Program.
The efficiency review points out that “a vast majority of the school districts have filed suit to declare this portion of the liability a state obligation, their efforts have not been successful thus far.”
Monroe’s unreserved fund balance (without OPEB) may have decreased $1,465,115 over the last four years, but the state also noted in their efficiency study that Monroe County Schools’ OPEB liability has increased $2,492,996 over the last two.