- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

MADISON, W.Va. (AP) - The schools superintendent in coal-focused Boone County has proposed cutting about 77 positions due to falling tax revenue and declining enrollment.

Superintendent John Hudson said cuts to the roughly 660-person school system workforce would take effect next school year, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported (https://bit.ly/20nSrEX). He said the school board will vote on the issue before March 1.

Sixty of the positions to be eliminated would be mostly teachers and a few administrators, Hudson said. About 50 people in the professional educators category would be regular employees laid off from the system, while the remaining 10 are filled with substitutes. Seventeen other positions that would be reduced are service employees.

“You hate that this is occurring, but some things you cannot control,” Hudson said.

Jerry Pcholinksy, head of the Boone County arm of the West Virginia Education Association, said the school system will hopefully - through retirements, people leaving the area and other factors - be able to find jobs for most of the employees who lose positions.

“Everybody is just waiting and dreading the call to come to the office and have a conference,” said Pcholinksy, a speech language pathologist serving the Sherman area.

Hudson said the school system is, pending the West Virginia Board of Education’s approval, planning to close three elementary schools before the start of next school year. The move is expected to save the school system roughly $1.8 million annually in utilities, personnel and other costs.

Also, he said, the transition from a four-period daily schedule in middle and high schools to an eight-period schedule next school year will allow for some positions to be eliminated while simultaneously providing year-round math and English instruction.

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