Nine arts school employees sent termination slips

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Due to budget cuts, nine members of the staff at the MississippiSchool of the Arts have been mailed termination letters, aMississippi Department of Education official said Tuesday.

Dr. John Jordan, deputy state superintendent, said educationofficials are continuing to struggle with the residential school’s2004-2005 budget, which was slashed by approximately $1million.

Jordan declined to say which nine staff members would bereceiving the termination letters this week, but added that theywere a combination of administrative and support staffpersonnel.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to say at this time who theywere sent to,” Jordan said. “Once I’m sure they have been notified,I’ll feel better about talking about it.”

No teachers have been terminated, he said.

MDE announced early last week that funding for the year-old artsschool will be set at $1.81 million — a decrease of $1.07 millionfrom last year. This year, the school had $2.88 million inoperating money from the state.

The cuts come at a time when the school is gearing up to doubleits enrollment with a new junior class scheduled to be added thisyear.

The school had 34 staff members last year, six of whom areteachers. At least two people on the administrative staff,including MSA Administrator Vicki Bodenhamer, also taught aclass.

Out of the classroom, the school’s staff includes a nurse, afood service manager and four cafeteria workers, a custodian, threemaintenance workers, a residence hall director and three residencecounselors, and security officers, among others.

Staff members who receive the certified letters can continue towork through June, Jordan said, but will be out of a job on July1.

Staff cuts were inevitable, Bodenhamer said last week, andeducation officials have been struggling since the cut wasannounced to determine just how badly the school would beaffected.

Bodenhamer and MDE officials have been meeting regularly torearrange the school’s finances. She has presented officials withseveral “packages” outlining areas that could be cut to cover theshortfall, all of which include staffing cuts.

“We haven’t decided on any particular package yet, even withsome personnel cuts that are already in the process,” Jordan saidTuesday.

Further staffing cuts are possible, Jordan said, but he couldnot elaborate until the budget is finalized.

Jordan also said that despite Bodenhamer’s reassurances lastweek that a new junior class will be enrolled this year, it is notcertain.

Approximately 70 new students are expected to join the 50seniors at the school this year.

“Honestly, we hope there will be a junior class, but that’sstill in the air,” Jordan said. “Our ultimate goal is to have thatschool open and have that junior class come to Brookhaven. We’restill speculating as to how we can make that work.”

Bodenhamer was unavailable for comment on the staffreductions.

MDE officials are facing a June 17 deadline in completing thebudget, Jordan said. At that time, the state Board of Educationwill meet to approve the budget.