Newer teachers in Fayette County might be vulnerable in budget cutting

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comFebruary 10, 2014 

Teachers who have worked for Fayette schools for less than five years could be vulnerable as the district explores staff cuts to help trim millions from its budget, officials said Monday night at a school board meeting.

The board discussed school staffing adjustments that could trim at least $11 million of the $20 million that Superintendent Tom Shelton said last week needs to cut from the district's 2014-15 budget.

Chief academic officer Lu Young said the district is looking at cutting an undetermined number of positions. That could be handled through attrition and by not renewing the contracts of some teachers who have worked for the district for less than five years, she said.

Young said cuts were not expected among staff employed for more than five years. She said district officials have identified $4 million in other cuts, some of which involve a 5 percent reduction in spending at the central office.

"There's not any place that will be spared" reductions, Young said.

School board member Doug Barnett said during an interview that he was concerned about cutting positions that could affect student achievement.

The board will be asked at its Feb. 24 meeting to approve a policy that will help guide staffing allocations.

In other action Monday:

■ District officials told board members about a proposal to accept a $1.4 million contract from the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department for school nurses. For more than 30 years, school health services have been handled by the health department, which places nurses in schools on a part-time basis. But budget cuts and Medicaid reimbursements at the state level required the health department to pass along more costs to the district, according to board documents.

Before this school year, registered nurses were used exclusively. As of July 1, a combination of registered nurses and licensed practical nurses have been used, and some services were reduced or eliminated.

The district asked for proposals from other providers for the 2014-15 school year. But a document released Monday night said a committee reviewing the proposals voted to approve the health-department contract because it restored previously reduced or eliminated services, and the department's familiarity with the district and expertise in school health were "found to be most favorable."

The board will vote on the contract this month.

■ The board approved a design consultant contract with Tate Hill Jacobs/Perkins & Will Architects for construction of a new high school at 1970 Winchester Road.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter: @vhspears.

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