- Associated Press - Thursday, April 21, 2016

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Hattiesburg Public School District officials are for the first time discussing in detail the job cuts that were made earlier this month.

Interim Superintendent Greg Ladner instituted the cuts as part of a series of cost-cutting measures designed to augment the district’s fund balance, which became severely depleted under the leadership of then-Superintendent James Bacchus. The district’s financial difficulties first came to light when Bacchus resigned in December.

Ladner tells The Hattiesburg American (https://hatne.ws/1Nmaohg) some of the 32 teachers laid off were affiliated with popular extracurricular programs at the district, including one in the forensics program.

“We have 2.5 teachers and we’re going to cut one teacher,” he said. “(Forensics) currently serves 66 students.

“Strings currently serves 311 students. There are eight teachers. We are cutting two of those teachers.”

No cuts were made in the band or art programs. Art has 124 students who are supervised by two teachers, and band has 198 students, supervised by four teachers.

Ladner has made 57 job cuts in all - 11 in December and 46 this month. In addition to the 32 teachers, Ladner laid off 14 administrators, directors, specialists and counselors, as well as 11 non-contract employees.

Ladner said teacher positions were eliminated at all nine of the district’s schools, except for Grace Christian Elementary. Teachers could not be reduced there without putting class sizes above the state ratios.

“When you’re in violation of one of those ratios, the state comes in and warns you, and you have one year to correct it,” he said.

In addition to the layoffs, Ladner has ordered a 5 percent salary cut for all employees and a spending and hiring freeze.

Ladner said his budget officials are running the numbers now. He hopes no future cuts are necessary.

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Information from: The Hattiesburg American, https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com


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