Wednesday, June 29, 2011

RIFs Reversed; District to Announce Smaller Layoff in July

In a letter sent to employees of the Helena-West Helena School District and posted on the district web site, the RIFs being recommended by the Willie Williams, the district's previous Superintendent, and being implemented by the district's now defunct and disbanded Board of Directors.

The letter reads as follows:


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.

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