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School system preps for new year with fewer workers

Reduced funding forced elimination of 33 positions through attrition program

By J.R. Williams - jrwilliams@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- Winchester Public Schools will begin the new academic year with 33 positions eliminated through an attrition program.

As a result of reduced funding from the city and state, the school system created the program to help offset a budget deficit for fiscal 2010. Fifteen instructional or administrative positions were eliminated. Eighteen support positions, of which 14 are teaching assistants, also were cut.

At a School Board meeting Monday night, Rick Till, director of personnel for the school system, said the reductions translate into $1.4 million in savings.

In addition, many instructors and support staff elected to take retirement incentives. The program in part doubled the benefit retiring employees received for unused sick time to $100 per day, for a maximum of 90 days.

The program was only to be available temporarily, and is now proposed to be struck from school policy.

According to an employee attrition report, 22 new teachers have been hired to replace teachers who retired, resigned or were terminated. Four new support employees have been hired, the report states.

The list of eliminated positions could be modified in reaction to increased student enrollment or class size requirements, Till said.

The reductions include a $162,275-per-year assistant superintendent position.

In other business:

* School Board members got a rundown of individual schools' accreditation status and scores on federal education benchmarks.

Daniel Morgan Middle School and John Handley High School failed to meet "annual yearly progress" reports as part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. However, Daniel Morgan pupils -- along with the school system as a whole -- have gradually been improving their scores since 2004, AYP results data show.

George Craig, coordinator of curriculum and instruction, told the School Board that Daniel Morgan's improvement is the result of "a lot of hard work and a lot of patience."

"These are significant numbers [showing] significant progress," he said.

Craig said all schools had passed state Standards of Learning test benchmarks and are fully accredited.

"It's the result of methodical preparation," he said. "We struggled to meet accreditation before 2002."

* The School Board got its first look at policy revisions being considered as a result of administrative changes and governmental regulations.

Many updates reflect the new lack of an assistant superintendent. The student code of conduct also was revised.

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