ROACHDALE -- A packed house at Thursday's North Putnam School Board meeting was on hand to hear some troubling news for the school's workforce.
Despite an overflow crowd that forced the North Putnam School Board to move its regular meeting from the boardroom to the North Putnam High School auditorium, no one in the audience asked to address the board at its Thursday night meeting.
Early on in the meeting Board President Andy Beck called for comments from the community. He prefaced his action by explaining that no personnel issues could be discussed in a public meeting. Adding that specifically meant no names could be discussed.
No one came forward to comment and the meeting continued.
On the evening's agenda was an item concerning a vote for a reduction in force (RIF) that was passed by board members.
Seventeen teachers will receive letters notifying them of the possibility of the loss of their position.
This notification does not necessarily mean they will lose their jobs.
"We're hoping people moving and retiring will meet that number," explained Superintendent Dr. Mary Lovejoy.
At two recent community meetings, North Putnam school board members and Lovejoy explained that if RIFs occurred there would be no mailed letters. They would be hand-delivered in meetings with administrators present. Reductions of certified personnel would also be done according the contract between the school and the teachers.
"RIFs would not prevent us from providing a strong educational force," Lovejoy assured the group at that meeting.
The superintendent went on to say that any reductions would be done according to seniority.
"If a teacher is laid off and is certified to teach in another area, they will be transferred to that area and can bump a teacher with less seniority," explained Lovejoy.
The RIF step is being taken due to the current financial status of the corporation. Lovejoy explained that a great deal of money was borrowed within the last year.
"In January '09, the board was asked to approve $6.7 million in loans. $4.7 million was paid back, but another $3 million was borrowed in June and $1 million in July. We currently owe $2.5 million," said Lovejoy.
She went on to explain that the corporation's general fund had $900,000, but the transportation fund was $127,000 in debt.
"We lost $500,000 from the enrollment being down. If we do nothing we will end the year at $2.5 to $3 million in debt," she said.
Other possible changes in the school corporation could include the high school athletic director taking care of the both the high school and middle school, reducing the number of assistant coaches in all sports and reducing extracurricular staff.
The board is also looking at reducing hours for instructional assistants, custodians and nurses by 30 minutes a day (15 minutes at the beginning and end of the day).
Lovejoy did tell the group that no changes in use of the swimming pool would take place.
Beck thanked the crowd for coming and for attending the earlier community information meetings.
"It's tough. We're still trying to do our best. We're open to any ideas. People can call us or e-mail us with any suggestions," said Beck.
Under the personnel report, the hiring of Stephanie Myers and Barbara Schultz at the Middle School cafeteria were approved.
The board also approved the resignation of long time board member Dale McGaughey. Applications for his vacated position are being accepted until March 1. Applicants must be registered voters, have lived in Russell Township for at least one year and cannot be a teacher or non-certified employee of the school system.
Letters of interest along with qualifications and resumes should be submitted by March 1. The appointment will be made at the March 18 board meeting.