School Board updates system’s layoff policy

In anticipation of using it, the Fayette County Board of Education this week revised its layoff policy.

The board adopted a revised Reduction in Force (RIF) policy at the Jan. 28 meeting.

Interim Superintendent Dan Colwell prior to the discussion on the policy said the policy was revised to bring it in line with state law.

The school board is currently considering the potential for eliminating more than 220 jobs for the 2013-2014 school year in order to adopt a balanced budget in June. All totaled, those cuts will require that approximately $15 million be trimmed from the budget.

Prior to the amendment, the RIF policy listed five conditions under which a reduction in force could occur. Those included a decrease in enrollment, a change in curriculum, personnel or financial practices, a loss of state or local funds, a lack of funding for programs, personnel or services provided by the school system or a reorganization plan to achieve a more effective school district.

The amended version approved Jan. 28 dealt with the last condition, stated now to read, “Any reasonable reorganization plan to include the elimination of programs or services to achieve a more efficient school system.”

Another change in the amended policy dealt with procedure to be used in determining RIF employees. Factors considered by the superintendent relating to a reduction in force prior to the amendment included the professional certification of the employee, tenure status, level of certification and length of continuous service.

In the amended policy, “The superintendent may (1) determine the group or groups to which the RIF will be applied, (2) select individuals or positions to be subject to the RIF, or (3) any combination of (1) and (2). The primary factor to be considered by the superintendent in devising a RIF plan shall be the performance of the educator, one measure of which may be student academic performance; provided, however, that this provision shall not apply if the board of education eliminates an entire program. Other factors to be considered may include, but shall not be limited to, the professional certificate of the employee, the professional expertise, effectiveness, professionalism, performance of duties and responsibilities, relationship with students, parents and staff, tenure status, level of certification, field of certification, length of continuous service with the Board, number of successful years in public education, performance of extra responsibilities, and performance of extracurricular responsibilities.”

The RIF policy was originally adopted in 1990 and was revised in 1995, 2000 and 2008.