Lee County Schools RIF Notices

Earlier this month there were 43 notices sent out to Lee County School employees announcing their potential termination pursuant to a reduction in force (RIF).  Here is some analysis related to those notices:

Affected Schools- BT Bullock Elementary (8 staff); Southern Lee High School (8 Staff); Floyd Knight (5 staff); East Lee Middle School (4 staff); Greenwood Elementary (3 staff); Broadway Elementary (2 staff); JR Ingram Elementary (2 staff); J Glenn Edwards (2 staff); SanLee Middle (2 staff); Lee Early College (2 staff); Deep River Elementary (1 staff); West Lee Middle (1 staff); Warren Williams (1 staff); Bragg St Academy (0 staff); and Lee County High (0 staff).

Of the 43 total notices, 12 were office staff from 7 schools; 9 were exceptional children assistants from 3 schools; and 22 were instructional assistants from 11 different schools.    Why target special needs teacher assistants?

It remains unknown just how many of these 43 notices will actually result in RIF terminations, given that the state has restored funding for all teachers assistant positions and given that the Lee County Board of Commissioners subsequently provided an extra $500K in funding to protect teachers and TA’s.

Another unknown is the rationale for some schools suffering much greater RIF cuts while others escaped relatively unscathed.  For example, why would BT Bullock Elementary (our second smallest K-5 school) be punished with 8 total cuts when Deep River Elementary lost only 1 position, and Tramway Elementary only lost 2 positions?  Did these cuts have anything to do with which schools lobbied elected officials harder and more publicly? And how is it that the county’s largest school in both students and teachers was not targeted for a single cut, when much smaller schools were to lose as many as 8 positions? Curious minds want to know.

About Thomas Jefferson

3rd President and Founding Father of the U.S. I conceived and promoted the country's system of public education in the early 19th Century. I am often misunderstood about my the "wall of separation" term and letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, which unfortunately has come to be interpreted as my suggesting separation of God and the Holy Trinity from all matters of state. I am a Christian, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and I owe Him my salvation. I pray for this great country, that it remain strong, independent and Christian!
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16 Responses to Lee County Schools RIF Notices

  1. Randall Lee Yow says:

    I’ve heard Harnett County has let go 88 classroom teachers and teacher assistants so far, with more possibly to come. Superintendent Tony Tata was right when he called this education budget draconian. Counties like Wake and Mecklenburg were lucky to have left over stimulus money so they could limit teacher lay offs, but rural counties like Harnett and Lenoir are being hurt badly by what came out of Raleigh.

    -Randall Lee Yow

    • Au contraire, Randall. The education budget from our GA was benevolent. What was draconian was what Harnett County had to do to balance their budget this year. You see, they have over-spent for years without the tax revenues to finance their spending. They had already drawn down their fund balance too far, and were in trouble with the Local Government Commission in Raleigh. Thay had no choice but to “CUT” their local appropriations for schools this year by $1.2M, unlike Lee County who increased local spending on schools. Also unlike Lee County, they were not flush with high paid administrators; so they did not have much room to cut assistant supes, assistant principals, or a bloated central office. So, they had little choice but to cut instructors and instructional assistants. No, Harnett had a completely different problem than Lee had, and the general assembly had little to do with it.


      • Randall Lee Yow says:

        The “conservative” Republicans that run the Harnett County Commission seem to think they are rather fiscally conservative. After all when Tim McNeil ran for state house against Jimmy Love he was the conservative medicine that was going to fix Raleigh. That’s why such local conservative luminaries like Linda Shook supported him.

        -Randall Lee Yow

      • Patrick Henry says:

        FYI – Harnett county commissioners voted yesterday to be on the side of the taxpayers. They voted NO to a tax increase.

      • Yes, I saw that snippet in yesterday’s Herald. Appears the agreement they cobbled together on Monday fell apart on final vote. It remains to be seen what they can do now. I guess in the end Harnett County commissioners simply could not stomach the thought of their tax rate being higher than Lee County’s tax rate. If Harnett’s current rates hold up, then Sanford, NC residents will continue to have the highest property tax rates in central North Carolina. No wonder Mayor Olive is so alarmed at the thought the EDC might not be around to give away more corporate welfare. Without these kinds of corporate tax kickbacks, no company in its right mind would want to occupy a site inside Sanford. They would be paying higher taxes here than anywhere else in a 40-mile radius.

  2. Patrick Henry says:

    Tata may have called them draconian but he didn’t cut the classroom. He cut the administrative, clerical, etc. He knows what is important. You don’t cut the teachers.

    So use him as an example all you want but that man also didn’t incite the public. He has a good head on his shoulders and recognized that times are tough and even education must buckle its belt.

  3. Someone else says:

    Where the cuts originated might not be the issue if some people got transferred. This isn’t the story you think it is.

  4. James Wilson says:

    Randall, perhaps Wake and Mecklenburg were not so much “lucky” (as you put it) and rather exercised logical planning and forethought instead of reckless spending.

    “Someone Else” is correct however. I believe that the plan after the RIF was to take all who were left and redistribute them to various schools and positions. No assistant was guaranteed a particular position just that there would be one, and many would be forced to move to fill in the gaps. I believe the RIFs were done with proprieties in mind one being performance and a lesser priority was length of employment.

    Basically, the positions that were eliminated were not necessarily the ones that would go unfilled next year. I am not defending the RIFs at all and it is my belief that Lee County could have protected the classroom but didn’t. There were non-classroom administrators hired on many occasions during the “hiring freeze” and there are unbelievable amounts of administrators and non-classroom employees that we could easily do without and are certainly not worth eliminating classroom teachers and assistants.

    • Randall Lee Yow says:

      You are right Dr Moss did not have 30 million dollars of left over stimulus money like Tony Tata. I am glad to see James Madison that you and Tony Tata are endorsing President Obama’s stimulus funding. It is good to see you come around.

      -Randall Lee Yow

      • Randall– go ahead and try to spin it any way you like. The truth is the NC general assembly took good care of education; but they aren’t able to watch over local diversion of the funds by the counties. That’s why our local BOE and BOC need to be vigilant. Obama’s stimulus did nothing to help this country, short or long term. Like all big government programs, it failed miserably to correct our economic woes. It just put us further in debt and compelled even more people to become dependent on short-term federal spending. Obama is rapidly moving us down the same path as Greece. Time to correct that sort of behavior!


  5. John Galt says:

    I am a teacher assistant who was let go due to the RIF. The RIF notices were were voted on and passed at last weeks school board meeting so that means that the 42 people were terminated. We were told from our principal that even if the county gave more money we would still be let go, and that the extra money would have no affect on whether we would keep our job. It was interesting to see how this story played out in the Sanford Herald. At first it was reported that the additional money would save all of the positions and throughout the week it turned into, it might save some positions. We were told that if by some chance that the positions opened back up, we would be able to reapply along with the general public. The funny thing is how the people were chosen. Some schools let people go because of performance, while some schools let people go due to seniority with no regard to performance. Our principal claimed that all of the decisions were made at the central office. I wonder who at the central office decided to use different criteria for different schools, and why they decided to use different criteria for different schools. The boards own policy (Policy Code 7921) states that performance should be the number one criteria for deciding which personnel were terminated while seniority within in the district as a whole should be third.

    There were some good people let go in the RIF. There were probably some people that needed to be let go due to performance, but they should have been let go already. I understand that if there is no money to pay people, there is no money and I do not have a problem with that. It is hard though, to see the head of our school district get a large salary/supplement increase while he at the same time cuts people who work with children everyday, yet earn very little. I feel like the county was bamboozled into giving more money. While they thought they were saving jobs, it appears that they were only helping to make those large supplements possible.

    • My condolemnces John. I sincerely hope you recover the position or a better employment opportunity soon.

      Since no one in the RIF was terminated “for cause” there should be a general presumption all were worthy of retention. The questions remains, what was the rationale? Sure, the school system laid out what it said were the guidelines (including conduct, performance, tenure, etc.). But looking at TJ’s list of the RIF stats doesn’t seem to reinforce the school’s explanation. How does Bullock lose 8 people while Lee Senior loses no one? Just doesn’t add up.


  6. Goose says:

    James, I don’t know the school system, but in private industry when someone is terminated “for cause”it isn’t considered as part of a RIF. For cause means that the employer has enought proof that he does not have to fear court action. I know people that were to be RIFed but were terminated for cause because of their behavior, (one locked himself in his office and proceded to dump the software that he had spent 6 months on) One RIF that I lived through certain job titles were reduced and people were able to choose the RIF or bump less senior title holders.One senior holder had accepted another job and both he and his wife took the RIF because they were leaving anyway. In the private section if you pick and choose people you need good labor lawyers.

  7. Taxpayer says:

    The school that I am familiar with is listed above as having 1 RIF position. In reality two office people have been told they no longer have jobs, the remaining ones have had their time cut. One custodian has had his time cut in half and another recent vacancy that will not be filled. Two teachers, one RIFed and one retired but vacancy will not be filled. Assistant principals have been cut to ten month positions. Social worker has been RIFed and school counselors have been told that their time will be cut also. No word on the few teacher assistants yet but it is expected that some will be let go.

    The Board of Education office had one secretary to retire earlier this year and a computer technology person to resign. These are the two sacrifices from the main office.

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