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Hall schools could rehire 20 let-go teachers
Contracts OK'd for nearly 2,000 teachers
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Hall County schools Superintendent Will Schofield said he expects the system will be able to rehire about 20 of the 100 teachers who were not offered contracts for the 2009-10 school year.

In early March, the school system informed about 100 teachers they would not be offered contracts for the 2009-10 school year largely due to budget cuts resulting from the recession. The system also overestimated enrollment numbers for this school year and more teachers were hired than needed.

"This is a year we knew we needed to be conservative," Schofield said of teacher contracts for the 2009-10 school year. "Last year, quite honestly, we overshot."

After the school board approved nearly 2,000 teacher and administrator contracts Monday for the upcoming school year, Schofield said the board may be in a position to use federal stimulus funds to rehire some of the 100 teachers who were not renewed before August.

Schofield said the system likely will inform most of the rehired teachers in the summer when enrollment numbers are clearer.

"A number of these positions will be hired this summer once we get a better idea of what class sizes will look like," Schofield said. "Once you offer contracts, you’ve hired people for the year. Because we don’t know how many kids we’re going to have, you can always hire later."

Schofield said the board has been very conservative this year, even as tax collection rates lag only slightly behind numbers through March of last year.

"I continue to believe we are right where we need to be," he said.

Due to drastic cuts in state education funds, the board is building a budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year, which begins July 1, that is $208 million. That’s $10 million smaller than this fiscal year’s budget.

At its late March work session, the board approved salaries for the 1,969 contracts which guarantee the state minimum but do not include a defined local supplement. Schofield said certified staff should expect a 2-3 percent cut in their local supplement, which made up 10 percent of their salaries for the 2009-10 school year. He said all system workers should brace for a similar salary cut.

Schofield said although it remains unclear how some federal stimulus funds may be spent, he believes the system may use about $600,000 of federal stimulus funds marked for special education to rehire roughly 10 teachers for kindergarten through third-grade classes aimed at keeping at-risk kids from entering special education programs. He said a portion of federal stimulus funds marked for disadvantaged children could also be used to rehire 10 to 15 teachers to reduce class sizes at high-poverty schools.

Richard Hill, assistant superintendent for Hall County schools, said although Gov. Sonny Perdue approved extending the deadline for teacher contracts from April 15 to May 15, the board is issuing contracts today.

"We are going to operate as if that extension was never granted," Hill said. "And the reason for that is that we feel it’s important to go ahead and give our employees the assurance of a contract for next year instead of waiting until almost the end of school before they receive that contract."

He said teachers, counselors, media specialists and administrators will have 30 days instead of the traditional 10 days to review the contract. Hill said employees have until May 14 to determine whether they will sign on with the system again next school year, and the system is "generally" open to extension even after that.

"We’re trying to give our teachers every benefit," he said.

Hill said the system will begin evaluating which teachers could be rehired this week, and he may be able to inform some teachers of their contract renewal as early as mid-May.