Sumter School District proposes 86 additional employee cuts to school positions

The Sumter School District is proposing to eliminate 86 more positions from schools throughout the district for the 2017-18 school year, trustees and administrative staff design the spending plan for the coming academic year.

Speaking at the district’s board of trustees meeting Monday night, Scott Allan, the financial consultant hired by the district shortly after learning of their more than $6 million deficit in December, said that despite the cut in positions, the district hopes to do so without having to actually terminating any school employees, relying instead on retirements and expected attrition.

If approved, a majority of the eliminations will come from the district’s elementary schools, which will see 48.5 full time positions cut.  The district’s middle schools will also lose 19 positions, while the high schools throughout the district will lose 18.5 educator positions.  A breakdown of the proposed eliminated positions, by school and subject, can be found here.

“We’re hopeful that reduction with not require us to RIF anyone in the district,” Allan said, adding the cuts should equate about $4.5 million in savings.

By eliminating these positions, schools throughout the district will be operating with student ratios of 25 students for each teacher in the district’s elementary schools, 30 students for each middle school teacher, and 35 students for each high school teacher.

These eliminated positions come in addition to the 47 positions eliminated earlier this year, and do not include any potential cuts in the district’s administrative staff, which Allan said is forthcoming.

“Don’t think for a minute it’s just out of the schools,” Allan said, adding that Dr. Cornelius Leach, assistant superintendent of instruction, had met with all district principals, and said all of the principals were aware of the coming cuts.

The reduction in positions might not be the only dramatic action the district might take as it continues to try to recover from the deficit discovered in December, as it will also consider the possibility of closing some schools, potentially as soon as the coming school year.  “We will be bringing that to the board on the 21st,” Allan said of the district’s upcoming financial committee meeting, as the district hopes to complete the spending plan by early June, well before the June 30 deadline.

Allan did say they are currently projecting the district to have about $2 million more in revenues for the coming year, without any kind of millage increase, primarily because of an increase in the value of the local mill. Despite the slight revenue increase, Allan said the district is still on track to need to ask for a Tax Anticipatory Note to aid the district’s cash flow.  Allan now hopes, however, that the district will be able hold off on requesting the $20 to $22 million loan long enough to where the local district can join with other districts, allowing for a lower interest rate.

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