The budget cuts will result in 15 of the system’s 110 aides and one teacher losing their jobs. Schools will also not be allowed to spend as much on textbooks and purchase any software.
These measures were taken in order to make up for the lack of federal funding allotted for transportation and textbooks.
Superintendent Dr. Stephen Nowlin said the cuts have been a topic of discussion since last fall.
“We were dipping into our reserves $1.5 million,” Nowlin said. “Over the past four years, we have lost $10 million.”
Nowlin said this coming fiscal year will be the system’s first without federal funding.
“By cutting the 15 aides, Lee County Schools will save about $460,000,” Nowlin said.
For the aides that remain, their contracts will be reduced to 182 days, acording to Nowlin.
“Naturally, some folks are disappointed, but we should reduce aides instead of teachers,” Nowlin said.
However, he also said one teacher would not have his or her contract extended into next year.
“We have one teacher who will not have (his or her) contract renewed, and a few others who are leaving for personal reasons,” Nowlin said.
The effect the cuts will have on the system may not be obvious until next school year, but administrators remain confident in the abilities of the school board to protect the teachers’ jobs.
Smiths Station High School principal Dr. Jason L. Yohn said that his school has been doing well despite the current economic climate.
“We’ve been fine. Lee County’s been very good about protecting instruction, from a standpoint of protecting teachers and teacher jobs,” Yohn said. “And this year’s been no different for us.”
He said that if the economy does not stabilize in the near future, however, the budgets will have to be cut more and that will cause an issue.
Yohn said he trusts the school board’s ability to handle the recent budget deficit.
“I feel extremely confident that the superintendent and the board are going to continue protect instruction by keeping the teachers we need in the classroom,” Yohn said. “They’ve always done that and they will continue to do that, in my opinion.”
Although Yohn said he has hope for the future of his school and the Lee County school system, Nowlin did not share the same certainty.
“It all depends on the legislature,” Nowlin said. “We have to be able to function with whatever they decide.”