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EBR schools facing potential layoffs as system tries to shave millions from budget

1 month 2 weeks 2 days ago Tuesday, April 02 2019 Apr 2, 2019 April 02, 2019 5:04 PM April 02, 2019 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - East Baton Rouge Superintendent Warren Drake says the school system may see layoffs if other attempts to mitigate spending fall short.

A letter emailed to school system employees Tuesday said its "expenditures have exceeded our revenues," and an additional $20-30 million must be carved out of the budget. As a result, each department is being asked to reduce its individual budget by at least 10 percent.

Though Drake says the hope is the self-imposed cuts and usual turnover of about 200-300 employees will allow them to hit their mark, the school system is prepared to make more cuts. The superintendent says a resolution implementing the Reduction In Force protocol will be presented during the April 18 school board meeting. Though it does not guarantee layoffs, the RIF acts as the first step toward that process.

If the resolution is approved, the school system would then reassess the budget on May 18 and determine if the RIF protocol is necessary.

"Again, I feel like we will not need to do this but it is a possibility," the superintendent's message read in part. "Although everyone will get a letter, if a RIF is necessary, it is possible that only some job descriptions would be affected, and if so, then a separate letter would go out."

A decision on the RIF protocol will be made at the end of May, with the board voting on the 2019-2020 budget in the June meeting.

You can read the full letter below.

Dear EBR Team Member,

First, I want to thank you for all you do for our children in our school system. As you may know, our expenditures have exceeded our revenues which makes it necessary for us to reduce our budget. The staff, principals and I, including our Board, have been working for weeks and months to find ways to accomplish this and we are making great headway toward our goal. Also, we usually have between 200 and 300 employees leaving the system for a variety of reasons at the end of the year. This would mean that through attrition and recommended cuts, I believe we can reach our goal of reducing the budget by between 20 and 30 million dollars.

Each department has been asked to make a significant reduction in their budget of a minimum of at least 10% which will be more than we ask of schools because I think we need to respect and honor the learning environment in our schools. We have taken a close look at contracts and most will be reduced by at least 10%, some by 50% and some eliminated. Everyone, every department and every school in the system has to have responsibility to help us find ways to accomplish this goal.

Although I feel that we can meet this goal through the means I have talked about, I will implement through the Board, the Reduction In Force (RIF) protocol beginning at the April Committee of the Whole. This involves the Board approving a Resolution that begins the process. If approved by the Board at the April 18th Board meeting, Human Resources will mail out letters to every employee announcing the general RIF protocol. Also, letters will be delivered to every employee through their immediate supervisor that will need to be signed for by that employee. Principals, department heads and supervisors will be asked to have a meeting to make this happen and signature pages will be returned to HR. After May 18th, we will take a look at the budget and only implement the RIF if we feel that it is needed to reach our goal. Again, I feel like we will not need to do this but it is a possibility. Although everyone will get a letter, if a RIF is necessary, it is possible that only some job descriptions would be affected, and if so, then a separate letter would go out. That decision, if necessary, would be done at the end of May and the Board votes on the 2019-2020 budget at the June meeting.

I feel it is important to let you know that this is on the agenda for this month but also that I don’t think we will need to implement it. Again, I want to reiterate that I will only implement the RIF if we cannot significantly reduce our budget through the proactive actions we are taking now.

I want to thank you for your dedication and service to our children every day but, especially during this testing season which is extra stress on all of us. Your job is critical to the wellbeing of our students, our schools and our system. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact your Supervisor or me.

Sincerely,

Warren Drake

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