Hernando schools to cut 129 teaching jobs
BROOKSVILLE -- The Hernando County Schools are getting smaller.
Last night a divided School Board endorsed a staffing plan that would trim 129 classroom teaching positions from the work force next fall in an effort to cut $16 million from its budget. The plan would also cut more than 70 classroom support teachers, including half the district's assessment teachers and 20 reading teachers and coaches.
Business services director Heather Martin told the board it could reinstate those positions "if there's a miracle" and state funding cuts turn out to be less severe than expected. But a failure to reduce staffing levels this spring could force the district into a painful round of layoffs this summer, she said.
Superintendent Wayne Alexander has said the district might need to cut up to $25 million in order to fund the shortfall in his $159 million operating budget for the 2009-10 school year. Officials hope attrition through retirements and resignations can provide jobs for those whose positions are cut.
Despite that grim outlook, board members John Sweeney and James Yant voted against the plan.
"Until we look into every possible option, we should not even be considering the elimination of jobs," Yant said, warning of the impact on the broader economy. "People will stop spending. We're in an economic spiral, and it just gets worse and worse."
For more details and updates, read the Hernando section of tomorrow's St. Petersburg Times or visit tampabay.com.
Tom Marshall, Times Staff Writer