Still faced with a shortfall of $868,249 for the 2013-14 school year, Gulf County School Board formally announced at its regular meeting that they would put into effect a reduction in workforce for the new year.
The School Board has discussed the move in a special meeting, but made the Reduction in Force official Tuesday during its regular monthly meeting.
In public comment, Associate Director of the Gulf County Educators’ Association, Sandra Butler said that the teacher’s union felt that the district was moving too fast and that letting teachers go should be “the last thing we consider.”
She warned the board that if it chooses not to follow teacher contracts then they potentially face unfair labor practice.
“Our hearts break,” responded Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton. “We’ve looked at every avenue and it’s not with a light heart that we move forward.”
For the 12-15 teaching positions anticipated to be eliminated, the Florida Department of Education dictates that the board cannot make their decisions based on seniority or certifications and they would have to utilize the latest teacher evaluations.
Teachers with the lowest scores would be released until the needed number was reached.
“This takes subjectivity out of play,” said Norton. “There’s no way we can operate the district without reaching our target cuts.”
Outsourcing the school’s custodial and janitorial services was explored further as GCA Services Group presented to the board for consideration in the bid. They currently work with Bay County schools and received high recommendations.
Previously in the meeting, the board recognized seven students in grades Kindergarten through twelfth who had perfect or near-perfect attendance for the school year.
Buck Watford, a major in the U.S. Army Reserves returned from his fifth deployment to Afghanistan last week and appeared before the council on Tuesday to thank them for the warm welcome home. He mentioned that not a week went by during his deployment that he didn’t receive packages or letters from the students. He presented Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School Principal Jeremy Knapp and Port St. Joe Elementary principal Susan Gannon with flags that were flown on his base.