THOMASVILLE —Grady County Board of Education officials say there may be changes to its reduction in workforce policy.

Superintendent Dr. Tommy Pharis presented to the board a rewrite of the existing policy at its Tuesday meeting.

“If we are going to do a reduction in force, I just believe that we need to base that on job performance rather than years of continuous service,” Pharis said Wednesday. “The first consideration should be how well are we doing our jobs.”

The main change, he said, is how that reduction is evaluated.

“The old document said teachers with less than three years of experience were the first ones to be considered during a reduction in force,” the superintendent explained. “The revised policy has that this be based on documented job performance rather than those with three or less years of service.”

Important functions of the board are “to employ personnel and manage resources within the limitations defined by the funding sources of the school system,” the policy states.

It is the board’s prerogative, according to the policy, to abolish job positions, reduce the work year and salary of certified or non-certified personnel and/or to reduce the number of employees when it must find ways to cope with program changes or financial demands.

A reduction in force can be done if there is:

• a decrease in student enrollment which would necessitate a decrease in the personnel or a discontinuation of programs;

• a change in state or local curriculum, personnel, or financial practices which would necessitate a change in or elimination of program or provided services;

• a lack of funding for programs, personnel, or services provided by the school system;

• Any reasonable reorganization plan to achieve a more efficient school system.

The policy applies to all professional personnel employed by the board.

The superintendent must present to the board an implementation plan that will not reduce the quality of programs in the school system.

The main factor to be considered during the planning of a reduction in force, according to the policy on the table, is the documented job performance of individual employees, as well as the superintendent’s own observations and knowledge.

Only when competence and expertise are equal among employees will other factors — such as tenure status, certification level or length of service — be considered.

The superintendent has the right to consult with any system personnel who may have information to help rank employees according to overall job performance.

Teresa G. Harris, board chairman, said Wednesday she feels the revision is necessary.

“Just because someone is brand new does not mean they should be the first to go,” she said. “I would rather have a high-performing three-year teacher than a low-performing 25-year teacher.”

No action was taken on the item. The revised policy will remain on the table for 30 days and be discussed during the March meeting.

“It can either be approved or not approved by the board,” Pharis said.

The board is currently discussing how to cut from its budget in fiscal year 2010. Some of the items discussed have been furlough days, reductions in supplements for professionally certified personnel and reductions in force.

Harris stressed that if the revised policy is approved it would only be implemented as a last resort.

“It is a good thing to have in place if reduction in force has to happen, but it would be an absolute last resort,” she said. “We are trying to do everything we can to keep those who want to be employed in our school system here.”

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