The Richmond County school board is examining their Reduction in Force policy. (March 16, 2010 / WRDW-TV)
News 12 at 6 o'clock, March 16, 2010
AUGUSTA---Richmond County school board members are looking at changes to how they handle possible teacher layoffs.
The Reduction in Force policy dictates how the board goes about laying off teachers. It's always been in place, but now, with more cuts expected, board members are taking a closer look at it.
Sherri Darden comes into work every morning at Glenn Hills High School excited to get her classroom ready for her students.
"I really enjoy their enthusiasm to learn," she said.
For hundreds of teachers like her across Richmond County, that love for teaching is becoming increasingly important.
"Every time the economy is low and every time we're in bad shape, educators are basically the first ones to get hit," said Glenn Hills principal Dr. Wayne Frazier.
With the state already forecasting cuts for the next two years and school districts as close as McDuffie laying off teachers, Dr. Frazier says the economy causes concern for educators.
"Morale is very important for teachers to have," he said. "I got to come to work every morning with my head high to help these kids, not knowing if I have job security."
And as the district looks for more ways to tighten its belt, it will take a new look at the Reduction in Force policy.
"Look at not just tenure, but how teachers have done according to Georgia performance standards," said board member Alex Howard.
The state Board of Education is asking all districts to look at their RIF policies. Here in Richmond County, that means a new way of evaluating teachers.
"We've had the policy in place, but this is the first time we've actually had to address it," Howard said.
Members say they're putting it in place just in case, but hope it doesn't come to that--so teachers like Ms. Darden can focus on what's important.
"It's seeing the kids come in every morning eager to learn," Darden said. "I really just enjoy working with the kids."
The school board discussed the policy at Tuesday's meeting, but it was tabled until next month to allow for further discussion and teacher input. As for whether or not the RIF will go into effect, that will be decided once we know what budget cuts to expect from the state.
Right now they are focusing on attrition. People who retire or quit won't be replaced. They hope that will keep them from having to actually lay people off.