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Hall County Schools freezes hiring
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Until state funding and possible staff relocation issues are resolved, Hall County school system officials have put a hold on bringing in new employees.

"We have instituted an in-house hiring freeze, unless it is for a critical position," Superintendent Will Schofield said during Monday's Hall County Board of Education meeting.

School officials also announced possibly closing Jones Elementary School next year. Should that happen, system administrators would need to relocate staff members to other schools, which is one reason the hiring freeze was implemented.

Another reason for the freeze is because system administrators are still waiting to learn how much state funding they will receive for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1. So far, Schofield said the system could be looking at funding cuts of $300-$600 per student.

"Normally, we would wait until May (to discuss the budget), but given the circumstances, I think we should start earlier this year," Schofield said.

The board anticipates meeting prior to its April 12 work session to begin discussing next year's budget.

The uncertainty of the pending budget also has led the board to consider pushing back to November the opening of the public bistro at Lanier Career Academy. The purpose of the bistro, which was to open this summer, is to allow culinary arts students to gain real-world experience. Delaying the opening will not impact students' classroom learning, officials said.

During the meeting, board members also approved reconfiguring the system's sex education committee. In addition to Schofield, the committee will include community representatives that have been recommended by board members. The group will work to create sex education curriculum for kindergarten through 12th-grade students. The proposed curriculum will then be posted on the system's Web site for public comment.

The board also approved several special purpose local option sales tax projects including purchasing video conferencing equipment for six high school classrooms for $150,000.

SPLOST funds can only be used for technology upgrades or other school improvement projects, not employee salaries, Schofield said.

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