The Hall County school board unanimously voted to amend its enrollment policy to allow children of about 100 "displaced" employees to continue attending Hall schools.
The board made the decision Monday following a week in which roughly 100 Hall County teachers were notified they would not be offered a contract for the 2009-10 school year.
Hall Superintendent Will Schofield said the children of "nonrenewed" employees will be allowed to attend Hall schools indefinitely. Traditionally, children of Hall County school system employees who lived outside Hall County were eligible to attend county schools only as long as their parents were active system employees.
Schofield said the board aims to minimize disruption in the lives of teachers who will not be returning to the classroom in August.
"We’ve lost some good people on Friday," he said. "A significant number were very strong teachers."
Schofield said a drop in enrollment, lower local revenues and $6.3 million in state austerity cuts led to the teacher layoffs. He said cutting 100 school-level positions such as teachers and counselors will save between $5 million and $6 million next year, and will help offset state budget cuts, which school officials expect to be drastic.
Schofield said with state revenue numbers for February lagging about $330 million behind last year’s, it looks as if the school system won’t be able to count on rebounding state revenues to brighten the school system’s grim fiscal outlook this spring.
Richard Hill, associate superintendent for the Hall County school system, said in the first week of February he met with each of the system’s 33 school principals for an hour to review their recommendations for nontenured teacher cuts.
"We talked with them (principals) about their needs for next year," Hill said. "We looked at their enrollment for next year. We talked about ways we can reduce staff."
He said in those meetings, principals made recommendations as to who could be cut on the school level, but the recommendations remained "fluid" until March.
"They worked very hard for a month fine-tuning what we originally determined at that conference," he said. "The principals were the ones who know the staff members better than anybody. We relied on them to make recommendations to us."
Hill said teachers affected by the cuts were notified Friday. He said those teachers must notify the school system today as to whether they will leave the system as a resignee or a "nonrenewal." Hill said a "nonrenewal" suggests an employee is not returning to the system because of action the administration has taken, whereas a resignation is something an employee has initiated.
"The bottom line is, either way, they won’t be back next year. But a person may not want to have a nonrenewal on their record, because sometimes a nonrenewal is often interpreted as indicating a problem," he said. "Neither would affect action for next year."
Schofield said the system will provide personal letters of recommendations to teachers who are being laid off as they search for jobs.