Classified staff face cutbacks in work hours
Published 3:46 pm Friday, May 26, 2023
GATESVILLE – Approximately 40 employees of Gates County Public Schools will be impacted financially as the school system continues to look for ways to reduce its operating budget for 2023-24.
At its May 8 meeting, the Gates County Board of Education voted to take action to reduce the hours of approximately 40 classified staff from 40 hours to 37.5 hours per week.
“The decision was made to ensure that classified staff would remain employed with no one losing their job,” stated Gates County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Barry Williams.
He added that the school district communicated the board’s decision last week to the employees whose weekly work hours will be reduced. That reduction in pay is scheduled to become effective on July 1, which marks the start of a new budget year.
According to Dr. Williams, the reduction in hours is projected to save the school district $133,000 annually.
Williams did not rule out the possibility that the reduction in hours decision may be reversed. He said “it depends” if there are added FY 2023-24 budget funds from the county and/or the state that will overcome the current shortfall.
A “classified” employee or non-certified personnel are individuals in positions within a job classification that does not require a professional educator’s license issued by the Licensure Section, nor professional certification, prescribed by the State Board of Education.
Williams said the reduction in employee hours does not include teachers, teacher assistants or administration.
This news comes at a critical time for the local school system as they grapple with a budget shortfall that has been estimated at more than $880,000.
The Gates County School Board hosted four of the five county commissioners at their May 8 meeting where both boards addressed the shortfall. However, what that final dollar amount may look like will not be known until the state decides on Small School and Low Wealth County funding supplements.
What is known right now is that Gates County Schools is requesting $3,840,200 from the county’s coffers for Fiscal Year 2023-24. That marks an increase of over $800,000 from current year funding.
Gates County Schools Superintendent Dr. Barry Williams said the extra funding is needed because of the possibility of less funds from the state due to a decrease in enrollment since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Additionally, the school district is dealing with increases in some salaries due to the mandated federal minimum wage as well as mandated increases to employee retirement plans and increases in health care costs.
He said the school district is working with the county to acquire one-time funding ($800,000) to increase the fund balance.
“Gates County Schools is continuing to plan for 2023-2024 budget,” Dr. Williams said in a May 21 reply to an email sent May 19 by this newspaper requesting information about the reduction in hours for classified staff.
“At this time, there has been no response about the requested funds from the county commissioners as they are continuing to work on [their] budget,” Dr. Williams continued. “Also, the state has not determined funding for the upcoming school year. Without knowing the funding amounts we will actually receive from both the county and the state, the school district must continue to plan.”