The letter reads as follows:
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATI.ON
June 29, 2011
To the E mployees ofthe Helena-West Helena School Distri ct:
The Arkansas Department of Education took control of the Helena-West He lena School District on June 20, 2011, and Education Commissioner Dr. Tom Kimbrell removed the Superintendent and Board of Directors. This action was necessary to stabilize the finances and management of the District in preparation for students returning for the 2011-2012 school year. Dr. Kimbrell appointed Suzann McCommon , director of the Great Rivers Education Service Cooperati ve in
Helena-West Helena, as the District's Chief Executive Officer. He also appointed Uli cious Reed, a former superintendent of the Marvell School District, as the District's Chief Operating Officer.
Over the past year, all of you have been the subject of one or more Reduction ln Force (RIF) actions taken by the former superintendent and Board- some employees were non-renewed, others had their contracted days reduced, and a ll employees had their pay reduced. As painful as it will be to reduce the si ze of the District's workforce, we have no choice; reductions must be made because the District cannot afford to meet its existing payroll obligations with the fundin g expected for the 2011-2012 school year.
Arkansas Department of Education employees have spent the last week closel y examining the RIF process. They have determined the RIF actions taken by the former superintendent and Board were not consistent with law nor with the District's policies. It i s not fair to the students and employees of the District to leave the prior RIF decisions in place.
Therefore, effective immediatel y, we are rescinding all prior RIF actions ta ken by the District. No l ater than July 15, the District wi ll implement a targeted Reduction in Force (RIF) that is fu ll y consistent with state law and with the District's policies. Because of resignations and retirements that have already been finalized , it is our hope this targeted RIF w ill be less severe and l ess widespread than the prior RIF.
Specifica lly, thi s means:
• All current employees who have not resigned or retired will continue to be employees of the District on July 1 . Resi gnati ons or retirements already accepted by the Board will not be changed or modified.
All twelve-month employees may report to work as usual July I unless they have previously requested leave. Any other employee who would ordinarily work July
1 may report to work.
• For the time being, all employees will be paid in accordance with the 2009-20 l 0 salary schedule. The reason for this is that the District used the same salary schedules for 2009-20 l 0 and 20 l 0-2011, and the Board never formally adopted a revised salary schedule showing the three percent (3%) reduction. A copy of this schedule is enclosed for your reference. If there is any discrepancy between the schedule and your contract, or between the schedule and your previous paychecks, this sa lary schedule will control the amount of your salary.
You must immediately return the enclosed form to tell us your intent for the 2011-
2012 school year - whether you desire to return to work, or have accepted other employment, or intend to resign or retire. These forms must be received in the District office no later than 4 p.m. Friday, July 8. If we do not receive a form from you, we will assume you do not intend to return to work for the District for the
2011-2012 school year and we will remove you from the payroll.
On Friday, July I , a Point List for all certified employees will be posted to the District's website. This list will identify the points to which each certified employee is entitled to under the District's RIF policy. If you do not have Internet access, you wi II be able to obtain a copy of the list at the District's Central Office beginning Friday, July I. If your points are listed incorrectly, you must give us written notice no later than 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 12. If we do not hear from you, we will use that Point List to determine which employees are subject to the RIF.
No later than Friday, July 15, we will implement a targeted Reduction in Force (RIF). Written notice will be mailed to every affected employee. Affected employees wi ll have thirty (30) days to file an appeal, and all appeals wil l be decided by an impartial panel.
We greatly regret that these steps are necessary, but the District must reduce its spendin g to survive. Our primary concern is the education of the students in this community. For the good of the st udents, these actions must be taken.
If you have any questions, please ca ll the District's Central Office. Please immediately return the enclosed form so we will know whether you want to return to work.