- Associated Press - Saturday, February 6, 2016

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Classified employees in the financially troubled Hattiesburg Public School District will be subject to a 5 percent salary cut for the remainder of the 2015-16 school year. That’s according to a letter sent Thursday by interim Superintendent Greg Ladner.

The Hattiesburg American reports (https://hatne.ws/1NUeqHb) Ladner sent out additional letters on the cuts Friday to the approximately 390 individuals affected.

Classified jobs include such positions as custodial, maintenance, secretarial, technical, teacher assistant and transportation.

Ladner also notified approximately 15 classified staff Friday that they would be laid off.

He said the moves should save the district about $200,000.

Thursday’s letter suggested there would be more cost-cutting to come.

“There are many additional things in the plans,” the letter read. “We understand that any reduction or lay-off impacts our employees and their families in a very real way. … We all wish that our situation did not make these plans necessary.”

Ladner has made clear employees such as teachers and administrators will also have to make sacrifices once their contracts expire at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

He has taken a salary reduction from $130,000 to $120,000 a year. His predecessor, James Bacchus, made $165,000 annually.

The district’s financial woes were first brought to light when Bacchus resigned in December after nearly five years with the district.

In a letter to School Board President Marcus Cathey, Bacchus attributed his leaving to an unanticipated deficit in the 2015-16 budget.

Shortly after Bacchus left, business manager Terry Stennis also resigned.

The district has been operating on a fund balance of about $768,000. It has also taken out a Tax Anticipation Note of $7 million, which it anticipates repaying.

District officials have not said how the fund balance became so depleted, instead saying they preferred to focus on the future.


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

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