Some Lafayette schools staffing decisions on hold

Some Lafayette Parish School System hiring and staffing decisions are on hold until the School Board makes some key budget decisions, said Bruce Leininger, the district’s human resources director.

The district is overstaffed by 83.5 teachers with a proposal to cut the positions at a savings of $5.3 million pending board approval. The district also has a proposal to cut seven assistant principals and two counselors at a savings of $995,000.

Based on student enrollment projects and staffing formulas, the district is overstaffed with the positions, district officials have said.

The board is set to meet again on June 18 to review proposed changes to its $256 million general fund, which includes salaries and other daily operational expenses. Final adoption of the unified budget isn’t scheduled until July 17, nearly three weeks after the start of the fiscal year.

Meanwhile, the district is trying to find spots within the system for about 35 teachers displaced by changes in the system and whose contracts are current.

Of the 35, about 20 were displaced by changes at Acadian Middle School, Leininger explained.

The board approved the middle school’s change at the request of Principal Linda Nance, who said the school needed a fresh start with teachers experienced in working with high-poverty students. The school’s staff includes about 35 classroom teachers and about 10 teacher assistants.

Last summer, the changes of Northside High School led to the displacement of 26 teachers and teacher assistants.

In 2011, the district had 92 displaced teachers — a higher number due, in part, to the board’s decision to close N.P. Moss Middle School and a budget-based decision to close an entire academic auditing department.

This summer, pending budget decisions has slowed the staffing process. If the board opts to cut the 83.5 positions, the impact could be mitigated by the number of retirees and resignations, which currently total about 86. However, principals reported a combined total of about 60 positions they could eliminate, if needed, Leinginer said.

“They’ve looked at places where they’re overstaffed or where they can afford to consolidate or eliminate a program,” he said. “The principals are being given some latitude on how to figure out how to solve the problem in their own school.”

The district also has a pool of 125 teachers it hired during the school year to replace employees who left the system before the end of the school year.

These “end-of-year” employees will have to reapply for their jobs and aren’t guaranteed placement, Leininger said.

In prior years, the staffing delays may have been compounded by a dwindling pool of job candidates, but that’s not the case this year.

“We have about 250 college candidates and a lot of them are still available,” he said. “Usually by this time of the year you’ve lost a lot of them. But what’s happened is a lot of school districts are running into the same problem we are. There’s a lot of budget shortfalls.”