Meridian Star

July 12, 2013

Employee cuts continue at Vicksburg-Warren schools

The Associated Press
Associated Press

VICKSBURG, Miss — Cost-cutting in the Vicksburg-Warren School District continues as education officials work to avoid a multi-million deficit.

"Right now, we're basically looking at all of our personnel and jobs. As far as cuts, primarily that's what we're dealing with," Interim Superintendent Donald Oakes tells the Vicksburg Post (http://bit.ly/12k9SUn ).

The 2013-14 budget shows the district spending $57 million on personnel costs, which include salaries and benefits. The budget shows the district taking in $76.9 million and spending $77.8 million before any reductions are made or departed staff are replaced. For the 2012-13 school year the district ran a deficit of nearly $8 million.

The district's latest move was the elimination of two public relations positions.

Susan Mandarino, who has been a public information officer with the district since September, was laid off about 10 days ago, Oakes said. She was paid $54,000 annually.

Another member of the public relations staff, Elizabeth Wade, who was paid $46,000, was moved to a federally funded community outreach program.

In April, District Financial Director Dale McClung told the school board it would face a deficit of at least $900,000 and it could reach $7.7 million if all positions from the 2012-13 school year were filled.

McClung has said overstaffing of nearly 90 employees is the biggest driver of the deficit.

The school board recently eliminated two assistant band director positions — one at Vicksburg High School and the other at Warren Central High School.

Oakes said positions are being consolidated through attrition.

"I think what we're doing is reassigning people to jobs that are double duty-type jobs," he said.

In April, the board voted to reduce administrative assistant Charles "Bubba" Hanks' salary from $47,225 to $23,612, and administrative assistant John Walls' from $55,225 to $27,713.

Oakes said the district is looking for more areas to cut, but personnel takes up the largest chunk of expenditures.

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Information from: The Vicksburg Post, http://www.vicksburgpost.com