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Gainesville rehires 25 teachers, hires 8 new ones
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The Gainesville school board honored Shirley Whitaker on Monday for her 37 years in education. Whitaker most recently had served as the assistant superintendent of Gainesville schools. She retired this year.

The Gainesville school board rehired 25 teachers who were let go at the end of the school year, according to district officials.

The Gainesville system also hired another eight new teachers Monday to fill positions in special education, English, social studies and math classes, said Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Elfreda Lakey.

Lakey said of the 61 teachers who resigned, retired or whose contracts were not renewed this spring, only 19 of those teachers remain unemployed by Gainesville schools.

More teachers could be hired between now and the start of school Aug. 11, she said.

"The principals are looking at the number of students they have," Lakey said. "If they have additional students, they will make recommendations to us on what persons to hire back."

Lakey said the 33 teachers hired Monday will take a $75 per month pay cut like every other teacher in the system. She said the group of teachers were offered one-year contracts only.

The Gainesville Board of Education also approved a $5.5 million tax allocation note allowing the system to borrow funds from SunTrust bank until ad valorem tax revenues are collected this fall. The board approved the note in a 3-1 vote with board member Willie Mitchell absent and board member Sammy Smith dissenting.

Gainesville schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said it’s very common for school districts to use a tax note to cover system expenses during the summer and early fall before taxes are collected by December. The system took out a $7.5 million tax note last summer and was able to repay it on time.

The school board is required to pay back any money borrowed plus interest by Dec. 31. The board is charged interest only on funds borrowed.

"Most of the start-up costs for the school year are at the beginning of the year," she said. "We have no qualms about paying it back and we don’t even think we’ll use all of it, but we need to plan."

With the school system running a $3.6 million deficit, Dyer said it’s important that the system have another pool of funds available.

Smith said he opposed using a tax note because he feels the school district could work with the Gainesville City Council to devise two equal tax billings a year instead of one, which could reduce the system’s need for additional tax allocation notes in the future.

"I do have a philosophical difference with local governments using a short-term note, even though it’s legal and fairly common," Smith said. "My thought is we could be a bit smarter in our fiscal planning with a better ad valorem billing system."

City tax bills are typically sent out in the summer and are due in full in December, he said.

Dyer also brought to the board’s attention that the state is planning to restore cuts to National Board certified teacher salaries. The legislature had cut the teachers’ salaries by about $6,000 to $7,000 — or about 9 percent.

Dyer said the Gainesville system plans to award those payments to its nine National Board certified teachers whenever the state transfers funds to the school district. Dyer said she expects funds to come through in late September or early October.