Nearly 40 teaching positions could be cut from the Hall County school system next year, Superintendent William Schofield announced Monday.
Schofield said the cuts come in anticipation of a $23 million to $26 million deficit in funding for next year, losses in both state dollars and local property tax revenue. He said some of the positions will be reinstated, but it will be several weeks, maybe even months, until any teachers are hired back.
Up to 18 nontenured positions could be cut from the school’s English Language Learners program, which Schofield said saw an enrollment drop last year for the first time in a decade despite overall systemwide growth.
“It appears that we certainly are overstaffed based on the funding formula for ELL,” Schofield said. “That one was fairly straightforward. The other thing is that tends to be a variable group and so we have no way of predicting how many ELL students are going to show up in our classes first day of school next year.”
Another 19 positions, ones filled since the beginning of the current school year, could also be eliminated.
“With the possibility of having to do more with less that seemed to be the fairest thing we could do. Those ought to be the positions that we can’t guarantee back at this time,” Schofield said.
By state law, school districts must offer teaching contracts by May 15. Schofield said affected teachers have already been notified.
School board member Nath Morris said some of the cut positions were funded with federal stimulus dollars with the expectation they would not likely be long-term jobs. He, like Schofield, expects some of the teachers to be rehired.
“Once we get through the budget and look through the other revenue streams we’ll continue bringing some of those back, but we won’t know for a while,” Morris said.
Schofield said “critical need” positions, such as high-demand specialities, will be filled first.
With a 44 percent Hispanic student body, East Hall Middle School in Gainesville will be one of those particularly affected by the cuts, said principal Kevin Bales. The school has six ELL teachers.
“Part of it, you realize is a natural part of the process,” he said. “But obviously any time personnel are at risk, there is a human side that is very difficult to deal with.”
Bales said Monday’s announcement did not come as a surprise.
“We knew that when budgets are being cut millions of dollars that the only real place you’re going to find those types of dollars is going to be in personnel cuts,” he said. “We saw the writing on the wall.”
The cuts will be recommended at a May 9 school board meeting.
“It’s unfortunate times for us all,” Morris said. “We thought this year might be the tough one and it looks like it will be.”