Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bored of Ed

I'm about to start another month as a substitute teacher in Pocahontas County, presumably because no one with a regular West Virginia teacher's licence is available. (I have a short-term substitute license.) When I first applied for it, and took the required two-day course, I asked "How long does a short-term assignment last?" Evidently "short-term" and "long-term" have no specific duration. I'm doing my best, but my teaching experience is all with adults (defined as people over 18, not necessarily mature people), and lately, I've been hoping for a phone call from the school board office telling me my services are no longer needed. I really expected that by now another better-prepared substitute (like a retired teacher) would have become available.

Faced with declining enrollments and pending RIF's, Pocahontas County is not able to bring in new teachers midyear. Here's an example of what our school system deals with each year: Board of Education holds personnel hearings, from the Pocahontas Times, Thursday March 20, 2008.

Unfortunately, a reduction in the number of employees has become an annual feature of the work of the Board of Education, due to expected losses of revenue for the coming school year. Equally unfortunate is the fact that personnel decisions have to be made by April 1 but not all information on the actual amount of money that will be available to the school system is known by that date.

For the 2007-08 school year the Board was forced to make a total of 20 cuts in personnel before the April 1 date, but was able to rescind many of them once the funding situation was fully clarified.

The proposed personnel reductions this year are 7.5 professional employee positions and three service employee positions....

Prior to each hearing, School Superintendent Patrick Law stated that the reason for his recommendations for staff reductions are based on the continuing decline in the enrollment in the county's schools. As the state school aid formula is based on enrollment, the loss of about 50 students this year will result in less state money coming to the county for 2008-09.

He also pointed out that the state Education Department has warned the county that it continues to spend more than its revenues, to the amount of about $380,000 in the last school year and will soon have a deficit budget if corrections are not made.

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