- Associated Press - Friday, February 5, 2016

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Hattiesburg Public School District employees have been notified of pending job and salary cuts.

Letters of the cuts were sent out to employees Thursday, according to The Hattiesburg American (https://hatne.ws/1T0M066).

The district will send more letters Friday that outline specific cuts, said interim superintendent Greg Ladner. The district’s board of trustees approved three cost-cutting measures he proposed Tuesday, he said.

The first measure is salary cuts of a percentage Ladner did not specify. The next measure involves layoffs of 15 employees, which would include jobs such as custodial, maintenance, secretarial, technical, teacher assistant and transportation. The final measure is the suspension of the administrative salary scale so administrators would not receive a raise if they advanced their degrees.

Ladner said he started cutting jobs in areas that would least affect academics.

“Most certainly, with the possibility of having to cut deeper and deeper, it may emerge (there are) some cuts that more directly affect learning or the education environment,” he said.

More cuts are expected once contracts of teachers and administrators expire June 30. Ladner added that the cuts would save about $200,000.

Interim chief financial officer Sheryle Coaker said salary cuts would take effect in February. Communications director Jas N. Smith said laid-off employees would be given two weeks’ notice.

The financial plight of the district has now caught the attention of state officials. On Jan. 21, state Superintendent of Education Carey Wright send a letter to State Auditor Stacey Pickering saying a review by education department staff concluded the district would end the fiscal year with a deficit in its general fund. The letter requested that the Office of the State Auditor immediately investigate the district’s financial affairs.


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

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