Those same administrators had easier conversations Thursday when they reassigned faculty and staff who would stay with the school system to their new positions.
Superintendent Jeff McDaniel said Thursday that principals had been notified earlier this week concerning which employees would be reassigned and who might lose their jobs at the end of this school year.
The moves are part of a Reduction In Force plan for Fiscal Year 2014 aimed at cutting $7 million in salaries.
Reassignment notifications were given Thursday, said McDaniel, and those who could lose their jobs at the end of the year will be informed today.
He said it would have been too daunting for principals to have to tell every single employee the future of their jobs today, so the choice was made to inform one group Thursday and the other Friday.
He declined to indicate how many reassignments had been made when he was called Thursday night, saying he did not want to provide an inaccurate number.
It’s up to the principals to determine the manner by which they’ll inform affected personnel today, he said.
“We’re still doing some final scrubbing,” McDaniel said. “It’s very important that every ‘t’ is crossed and every ‘i’ is dotted, but by (Friday) night, everyone will have been notified.”
“That includes core leaders and supervisors that will be affected,” added Tim Hensley, assistant to the superintendent.
After the Rome News-Tribune issued an Open Records request to the school system on Tuesday, demanding any and all information regarding the RIF and those affected, the school system indicated they would fully comply with the request.
David Johnson, chairman of the Floyd County Board of Education, said the board approved the RIF plan but has no input or impact on who stays with the system or who goes.
“We’ve tried to be as transparent as possible with this whole thing,” Johnson said, adding that he has not seen the list of affected employees.
The RIF plan looks at FY 2014, which starts on July 1, said Johnson, and while there will be hefty staffing changes, the plan does not include closing any educational facilities or consolidating schools, but they haven’t ruled out that possibility for the future.
“Other than ‘what if’ scenarios, three to five years down the road, that’s about all (the discussion there’s been),” he said.
Another rumor was quashed on Thursday concerning art, music and physical education classes in elementary and primary schools. Johnson said those courses are safe.
As far as class size goes — as a charter system, Floyd County can actually set their own class size limits, but McDaniel said they’ve always tried to stay close to the state’s guidelines. Currently, there’s an average of 22 per class in elementary schools, about 28 in middle school classrooms and as many as 32 in high school classrooms, he said.
McDaniel said they have some room to play with when it comes to those numbers and can possibly add some students to classrooms because the schools’ facilities are adequate for small additions.
Something that will help the system adjust to the reduction in personnel is moving from a block schedule back to a seven-period schedule, McDaniel said. That means students wouldn’t be sitting in four 90-minute classes but rather seven 55-minute classes. The changeover will be very possible even with less personnel, McDaniel said.
Johnson stressed that the move from block to period schedules is not based on financial strains the school system has been experiencing, but rather on the fact that both students and teachers have said that 90 minutes is too long for one class.
It’s a move that will academically benefit students, based on both student advisory committee and teacher feedback, he said.
The changes being made at the school system may enhance the schools’ ability to offer more Advanced Placement courses, and the shorter class periods will help as well, McDaniel said.
He also commended all faculty and staff on how they’ve handled the flood of changes.
“I tip my hat to the professionals in this county,” McDaniel said. “It’s unbelievable, the professionalism. I’ve been blown away by the understanding and compassion and have empathy for the job (principals) are going to have to do.”