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Hancock School board to rescind some layoffs

May 29, 2013
By STEPHEN HUBA - Special to the Herald-Star , The Herald-Star

NEW CUMBERLAND - Three months after announcing teacher and other staff layoffs, the Hancock County Board of Education is poised to call some of those people back for the 2013-14 school year.

"It is good news. We're very, very pleased," Superintendent Suzan Smith said.

Smith said an evaluation of preliminary enrollment numbers for next year, especially in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, revealed that more teachers will be needed.

"Kindergarten enrollment requires that we have these teachers, so that's why we're glad to have these teachers back," she said. "We have some in other grades that we have determined we're definitely going to need. That's why we have taken them off the (reduction-in-force) and transfer list. We're certainly glad to be able to get this taken care of even before school is out."

Smith will ask the Hancock County school board to rescind a number of RIFs and transfers at tonight's regular board meeting.

In February, the board approved 11 teachers for a RIF by the end of the school year and 10 teachers for "transfer and subsequent assignment" effective next school year. The board also approved a RIF for 14 bus drivers and supervisory aides by the end of the school year and a transfer, effective next school year, for 19 bus drivers and supervisory aides.

The layoffs were necessitated, Smith said, because of a dramatic drop in enrollment - 130 students - between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years. The state of West Virginia uses the annual October Census to compute its level of per-student assistance. The loss of 130 students amounted to a loss of $644,513 in state aid for Hancock County Schools, she said.

Although the enrollment figures for next year are not firm, Smith said she's confident some of the teachers, and possibly some classified personnel, can be called back.

"It's too early (to give a firm enrollment number). You never know what summer's going to bring," Smith said.

The agenda says the reason for the RIFs or transfers no longer exists.

"We've determined that we are going to have a need for these teachers," Smith said.

In addition, the district plans to hire a new preschool special needs teacher for Allison Elementary, Smith said.

Sixteen professional staff, including 12 teachers, have been approved for retirement.

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