Houston teachers to keep jobs despite cutbacks

PERRY — Houston County’s teachers still will keep their jobs.

At a special called meeting Thursday, the school board approved Superintendent David Carpenter’s recommendations for cutting $12.1 million in expenditures for the coming year’s budget. The vote was 4-1, with board member Griff Clements opposing.

Part of Carpenter’s recommendations included an across-the-board reduction of $1,000 in salary supplement per certified employee, and Clements said after the vote he would have preferred a percentage decrease instead of the same amount for everyone.

“This way the younger employees wouldn’t be hit so hard,” Clements said. “But other than that, I support the board’s decision.”

Stephen Thublin, assistant superintendent for finance and business operations, said that through retirement and resignations, and cuts in programs, the board will have 151 fewer full-time locally funded positions next year, saving about $6.2 million in expenses but not costing a single full-time certified position.

“We’re losing positions, not personnel,” Thublin said, adding that even with increasing current class sizes, the system will remain below the state-mandated maximums for student-teacher ratios.

The board has yet to grapple with a proposed 1.5-mill increase in the millage rate, offered last month. Thublin said that for the first time in a long while, the county tax digest is expected to be less this year than last.

“Normally I expect about $2.9 million in interest income, but I’m projecting only $500,000 to $600,000 for next year,” he said.

Two- and three-day furloughs, to be taken before the current fiscal year ends June 30, will save the system about $232,000, he said. Employees affected are those who work longer than 10 months of the year, including central office personnel, from secretaries to department heads.

Contact reporter Jake Jacobs at 923-6199, extension 305.