Houston school board cuts at least 80 jobs; more cuts likely

PERRY — The Houston County Board of Education unanimously approved a budget adjustment plan that will eliminate at least 80 jobs from its payroll at its meeting Tuesday.

The measure was taken to begin accounting for Houston County’s state budget shortfall, which officials have said may be anywhere from $15 million to $25 million.

Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Business Operations Stephen Thublin described the proposal as “broad” and said it would be adjusted once more definitive numbers are known.

The reduction will affect 80 classified staff, which includes clerks, bus drivers and custodians, at the board’s central office and its schools to save $1.7 million.

The plan also includes seven vacant positions that will not be replaced, as well as seven more that will be funded by federal grant money. Those cuts are expected to save about $1 million.

A reduction in contracted days and salary grade pay will result in a savings of another $1.2 million.

In all, the measures approved Tuesday will save about $4 million, Thublin said.

More budget reductions are likely.

The system can save $880,000 per day by furloughing all of its employees, according to documents presented during Tuesday’s meeting. While not included in the approved cuts, a reduction of 99 certified positions — including teachers, principals and counselors — could result in another $5.7 million in savings.

“This is a work in progress. It is not completed by any means,” Thublin said.

Board Chairman Tom Walmer said the board may hold a called meeting in late April or early May to discuss the budget.

To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.