Law: Attendance worker will cost about $55,000

PARKERSBURG – Officials say retaining an attendance worker whose position was recommended for elimination will cost Wood County Schools about $55,000 out of the district’s carryover for next school year.

The Wood County Board of Education Wednesday deadlocked on a recommendation to eliminate the position of Joe Britton, an attendance and home services consultant for Wood County Schools. Because the vote split 2-2 with one member absent, the recommendation died and Britton kept his job.

The recommendation was part of a reduction-in-force, or RIF, to keep the school system within the state funding formula, which is based off enrollment.

Superintendent Pat Law said Thursday the cost of that position, about $55,000 including salary and benefits, would now come out of the school system’s carryover for the 2014-15 school year.

“The state recommends we have about 3 percent of our total budget as carryover. Right now it is about half of that,” Law said. “We have some cushion, but it’s not as much as we’d like it to be. We just have to hope we don’t have any sort of emergency which requires us to use a large portion of that.”

Bob Harris, assistant superintendent of pupil and personnel services, clarified that Britton was one of two employees with the district’s department of attendance to have their positions eliminated through the RIF process. The other, a community liaison at Franklin Elementary Center, did not contest the loss of her job through the RIF.

Harris said most of the department’s attendance positions were originally paid for through grants when they were formed nearly three years ago.

“All of the funding we had through grants have dried up,” Harris said. “Those are all paid for with county money now.”

The school board will hold a hearing Monday for a service personnel position that is being eliminated through a RIF, and at Tuesday’s meeting the board likely will be given a list of planned transfers. Employees subject to those transfers also may request hearings.

Both Law and Harris said it is too late in the process to look for another position to eliminate in place of Britton’s job.

“State law requires we give them a 10-day notice for a hearing, and the board has to vote on all RIFs before March 1,” Harris said. “It is too late to go back in and do another RIF.”

“In the law and the way this is set up, there is a check and balance. I make a recommendation, they (the school board members) approve or turn them down,” Law said. “In another situation I’d go back and bring back another recommendation, but in this situation it is just too late.”

Britton and his representative successfully argued Wednesday eliminating his position would put an undo burden on the district’s attendance program and on Parkersburg South High School, the main school Britton serves.

Harris said Thursday all of the attendance department’s employees will still have to pick up extra duties and cases due to the elimination of the position at Franklin.

At Wednesday’s hearing officials also said Britton’s permit to work as an attendance specialist had expired and he was not certified for that position. Britton said he would be renewing the permit soon and was still working toward certification.

Law said Thursday Britton still needs to address that issue.

“He needs to get that taken care of as soon as possible,” Law said.