St. Landry

May 3, 2012 11:26 PM by Shawn Kline

Despite state pressures, board rejects layoffs

The St. Landry Parish School Board rejects some long anticipated layoffs to teachers and staff and now has to answer to the state.

Despite pressures from the state's Department of Education, the St. Landry Parish School Board voted not to move forward with layoffs Thursday night. So, what's next?It leaves few options on the table:

The state could disband the board and move forward with these cuts itself, or the school board would need to amend its policies to gather enough votes to approve the layoffs.

The board approved the Reduction in Force policy earlier this year but now, some members are taking issue with it. The RIF policy does not provide a "bump-back" system. Such a policy would allow employees with more experience to move back into former positions and "bump-out" an employee with less experience in that position.

For example, a secretary with 15-years experience as a teacher could still be layed-off over a teacher with only three-years of experience teaching.

Every board member received a copy of the list, eliminating all elementary librarians and most second-language teachers to name a few of the positions on the list, all on the chop block.

"I had always planned on voting to reject this," John Miller said.

Miller, District Three's board representative, voted with the majority of the school board to reject the first round of layoffs in the school system. The move came as a surprise: the state's Department of Education expected the layoffs to begin after the last day of school on May 22.

"They had a lay out of some things you had to do very quickly and act upon," Acting Superintendent Joseph Cassimere said. "The layoffs were one of them."

Cassimere has the challenge of eliminating an estimated $4-million deficit but without layoffs, Cassimere says breaking even is almost impossible.

"We are spending less, but is that enough to get us through?" Cassimere says, "I don't think it is."

Miller says he won't accept any cuts to teachers, even if that means the state coming-in and taking over.

"We are a D school system, we need to improve," Miller said. "Making these cuts, what is our school system going to be? An F school system? I didn't want no part in that."

Cassimere expects to have a conversation with state education officials on Friday to determine the future of these jobs, now to include those of school board members.



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