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 School Board Tables Job Cut for 30 Days

August 27, 2008 - A Knightstown High School employee's pleas to save her job paid off last week, at least temporarily, as a divided Charles A. Beard School Board voted to table further consideration of cutting her position.

"We do need to undertake a cost-reduction strategy," CAB Superintendent Gary Storie told board members at their Aug. 19 regular monthly meeting, "and part of that is going to involve personnel."

Storie recommended that the board cut three positions: the central office repectionist; the media center aide at Knightstown Intermediate School; and the KHS extracurricular treasurer. He said the first two positions had already been vacated when those employees found other jobs.

While he said he understood these were difficult decisions to make, he said he felt the cuts were necessary to be fiscally responsible and help CAB move forward. He said the three cuts would save the school corporation about $72,000 a year.

Earlier in the meeting, during public comments, Theresa Hibbert, the KHS extracurricular treasurer, asked the board to consider not cutting her position. She said eliminating her job and adding her responsibilities to those of the food services director, which is what Storie proposed, would be detrimental to students, staff and faculty.

Hibbert also told board members she is responsible for all textbook rental fees at KHS and that without her work, fees may go uncollected. She said that last year, she and others worked "very diligently and very hard" to collect over $20,000 in past due textbook rental at KHS.

Storie told the board he did not think combining Hibbert's responsibilities with those of the food services director would be detrimental to CAB. While the two jobs are in different departments, he said their duties are not dissimilar and the positions could be combined.

Board member Leah Kopp asked Storie if there were any other positions at CAB that Hibbert could take if her current job is eliminated. Storie said there was a part-time teaching aide position at Knightstown Elementary, but noted it was for less pay and did not include the health insurance benefit Hibbert now gets as a full-time employee.

Hibbert told the board she couldn't afford to feed her kids on the pay from the teacher's aide position, which she said is $5 less an hour than her current job. While she said the health insurance coverage she gets through CAB just covers her and not her family, she said she would not be able to get coverage through her husband's employer.

"I just ask that you guys maybe give me one more year to see what you can do to adjust your budget," Hibbert said. She urged them to "think long and hard" before cutting her position, and said she thought they should "shadow" her work to see all she does. Board Vice President Steve Dalton asked Storie whether CAB could provide Hibbert with insurance if she took the part-time teaching aide position.

"You can," Storie answered. "But what about everybody else?"

Storie told the board he wanted to give Hibbert 45 days before her job would end, something he said was, primarily, in deference to her, as well as allowing some time for the transition. However, he said a shorter transition period could suffice, and did not commit to recommending the extra 45 days again if the board were to vote to cut the position at a later time.

Acknowledging it was the board's decision to make, Storie repeated that his recommendation was that the three cuts, including Hibbert's position, be approved. He said he thought the school board and administration have an obligation to be as efficient as possible.

"I know it's tough. … It's never going to be easy," Storie said. Noting that there could be additional cuts to come, he said, "I understand that there are people involved and that makes the decision difficult. … It's not an easy thing we do."

Dalton said he wanted to table the proposal to cut Hibbert's job. He said he wasn't trying to make the issue more difficult, but said he wanted further clarification on her individual situation and to see if there are any alternatives that haven't been explored.

The board voted 5-2 to table Storie's recommendation to cut the KHS extracurricular treasurer position, with board members Mark Fort and Wade Beatty casting the dissenting votes. The board voted unanimously, however, to cut the other two jobs.


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