|Updated: 5/24/2012 12:00 am
||Published: 5/23/2012 7:15 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Pulaski County Special School District is hiring two new directors to oversee principals and implement Common Core standards.
Those new hires has the teacher and support staff unions wondering where the money is coming from when the district says it needs millions in budget cuts.
New state curriculum standards go into effect next school year, so PCSSD Superintendent Dr. Jerry Guess says the district will be focusing more sharply on curriculum for the 2012-13 school year. "Parents should be reassured we're going to have a lot of expertise to focus on student instruction for next year."
To hire Dr. John Tackett and Dr. Janice Warren, the district cut one deputy superintendent position and reduced curriculum coordinator positions from 7 to 3. Dr. Guess says this is a net reduction of positions in the district office.
But the recently unrecognized teachers and support staff unions are curious how the dollars add up. PACT President Marty Nix says she can't see where hiring 2 directors is going to be a cost savings. "Everything the district does these days is supposed to be fiscally responsible."
PACT is requesting a hearing with the district regarding recent contract disputes, and also seeking legal action regarding withdrawal of recognition by the district. "Recognition is one of those items in the contract that doesn't have a cost to it."
Dr. Guess says the district needed to trim $7 million, and plans to reduce roughly 80 jobs, hopefully through retirements and resignations. While Nix hopes the recent turmoil will be resolved, she says teacher's working conditions are the students learning conditions. "You cannot separate the two."
Dr. Guess says he's already received 94 indications of retirement. That coupled with resignations is why he's hopeful all staff will be able to return in the fall.
The last several years, enrollment has been declining within the district. Next school year, the district expects an increase in enrollment for the first time in a long time.
Recent budget cuts are mandated by the Arkansas Department of Education due to the district being placed on fiscal distress.
Dr. Guess says despite all this recent turmoil, the district has had an excellent school year. "The staff in the district has really done a great job."