11 school service personnel terminated No teachers will be terminated

By Mary Catherine Brooks WYOMING COUNTY BUREAU CHIEF

PINEVILLE — Following a tedious, time-consuming process, no teachers will be terminated from Wyoming County Schools for the 2016-17 school year.

However, 11 service personnel have received termination letters from Wyoming County Schools.

Those who will be terminated, and those who will be transferred to jobs at other schools next year, have been notified.

“We’ve eliminated 21.5 service personnel positions — not people,” emphasized Deirdre Cline, assistant schools superintendent.

Of those 21.5 positions, 11 people will be terminated, she said.

“But one person out of our Wyoming County Schools family is too many,” Cline noted.

There were also 14.5 professional positions eliminated. However, due to several retirements, no teachers were terminated, she explained.

“We started out with several long-term substitutes,” she said. “And we’ve had several professional retirements. That’s the reason we don’t have any professional terminations.”

Cline, along with Robin Hall, also an assistant superintendent, delivered the news in person to those who will be terminated and those who will be transferred.

“We spoke with each one of them personally,” Cline said.

Cline and Hall have both been on the receiving end of the transfer and termination letters and know first-hand the turmoil such news creates.

Frank Blackwell, county schools superintendent, said officials always use attrition — retirements, personnel leaving, etc. — whenever possible, rather than terminating employees.

Blackwell is retiring June 30, and Cline has been named his successor.

“We’ve looked at every position,” he emphasized.

The school system does have 40 employees over the state-aid formula, but the voter-approved excess levy provides for extra personnel, according to officials.

Wyoming County Schools’ student population has fallen by 131 pupils this year. That translates directly into a loss of state funding — fewer students require fewer personnel.

Additionally, the system is facing a nearly $250,000 loss in state aid funding due to the shrinking coal market.

Also, severely declining severance taxes coming into county coffers have forced the county system to tighten belts since the beginning of the school year.

An immediate hiring freeze went into place when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Oct. 5 the county’s state funding would be cut by nearly a quarter of a million dollars, Blackwell noted.

All personnel have since been reminded to conserve utilities by adjusting thermostats, turning off lights, equipment, and computers when not in use, making certain water faucets are turned completely off and commodes are not left running, among other cost-saving measures.

Substitutes can only be used when absolutely necessary, Blackwell emphasized.

If the county faces a future budget cut, he said, substitutes will be eliminated until the financial crisis ends.

“We’ve eliminated substitutes before, back in the early 1990s when (Gov. Gaston Caperton) cut school budgets three consecutive years,” Blackwell said.

Overtime has been eliminated except for emergencies, Blackwell said.

Travel costs, including school trips, are also to be kept to a minimum, he added.

“All these things will be monitored closely,” he said.

— Email: mcbrooks@

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