Natrona County School District Adopts Layoff Policy
The Natrona County School District on Monday approved a policy it hopes never to implement.
The district's board of trustees without discussion approved a reduction-in-force policy if the economic situation deteriorates to the point that layoffs are necessary.
"The policy was passed because we didn't have a reduction-in-force policy," Superintendent Steve Hopkins said after the meeting.
The Legislature's worst case scenario foresees a possible 25 percent reduction in school funding, something neither it nor the school district ever wants to come to pass, Hopkins said.
"But should that ever have to occur, the board would need a tool through policy that would make it possible for us to reduce the work force," he said. "It's their hope, as it is mine -- we've said it dozens of times and we're going to say it every time any one will listen to us -- to never have to use it, and to get those reductions that we need to, through attrition and avoid layoffs."
The district has been able to stay on track for an anticipated $12 million reduction in funding, Hopkins said. "We've eliminated about $4 (million) to $5 million from the budget. It's kind of a moving target."
The number of teachers and staff is lower than this same time last year, and it was lower then than the same time in 2015 and likewise 2014, Hopkins said.
The number of positions in the approximately 2,000-employee district is down by 75 to 80 compared to two years ago, he added. Those positions have been reduced through attrition -- retirements, resignations or people moving away.
"Any time those positions become vacant, we take a good hard look at if the district can operate without that position, and if we can, then we collapse it," Hopkins said. "It's been an ongoing process."
Trustee Dana Howie outlined the policy at its first reading in May.
Since then, the trustees added language to the policy that would allow teachers facing layoffs as a result of budget cuts to have an administrative hearing. That requirement already exists in state law, but the reworded policy made that explicit.