At Week’s End for March 2, 2012

Thursday’s night special called meeting of the Columbus Municipal School District (CMSD) Board was a move to undo actions taken at the last school board meeting, held on February 13.

Most of the action was expected, with the Board quickly getting to the main point of the meeting.  The “Approve Staff/Personnel Item” was brought back before the Board to allow the “emergency RIF” to take place.  This has been the flashpoint of many discussions, over the past few months, in our community.

Next up, Dr. Liddell advised the Board that the Administrative Staff of CMSD, which had lost 10 days of leave, two years ago, would lose an additional five days, this coming year.  This was done as a cost-saving measure for the school district.

In addition, she reiterated that all RIFed employees did have two years or less of service.

Board Member Bruce Hanson asked if everyone on the list had met the criteria, and was concerned that some employees on the list were not eligible to be released.

Board Attorney David Dunn spoke up, in regard to Dr. Liddell’s comments that everyone on the present list qualified to be released.  “She is absolutely right.  Only employees who do not have EAPL rights – employees with less than two years of service – are on the list.”  Employees with no EAPL rights cannot contest their release from employment.

Mr. Dunn went on to explain that the RIF list met the criteria of the district and numerous Attorney General Opinions from the State of Mississippi.

After a brief discussion, the motion to accept the RIF list being brought back before the board was approved.

Before approving the actual list, Mr. Hanson had several important questions, the most vital being, “If there was no shortfall, if we had the all the funds, would we have to RIF anyone?”

Dr. Liddell stated, in detail, that the effected personnel had to be notified of the School’s decision by the 15th of April, and school administrators had to receive notice by March 1.  That is the law.  So, the RIF had to take effect, even if some personnel could be rehired.  She also repeated that the district hoped to rehire many of the employees who had to be released.

Mr. Hanson stated that he believed that there are sufficient funds to keep the teachers and that that money should be placed in the budget. However, Dr. Liddell and others were adamant about the situation and moved forward with the RIF plan.

The motion passed, with only Mr. Hanson voting “no”.

In other business, the board voted 4-1, with only Currie Fisher voting “no”, to extend the search for School Superintendent an additional two weeks.  Two candidates have dropped out, recently, and Tommy Prude stated that he had been disappointed with the list and wished to gather more candidates.

Many teachers have expressed concerns over the lack of specifics about the criteria that would be used to rehire the teachers who had been RIFed.  In a follow-up interview, Dr. Liddell shared the following plan and written statement:

The Columbus School District continues to focus on our core mission, which is “to provide a quality education for every child.” With the challenges with the district’s budget and Charter Schools on the horizon, Columbus Schools has to be extremely cautious with appropriately allocating resources and its finances over the next few years. Even so, we are focused on protecting instruction in every classroom, the safety of our students, and rehiring as many Reduction in Force (RIF) affected staff back for next school year as our funding will allow.

RIF-impacted teachers and administrators will receive top priority in filling positions that the district will need back for next school year. To ensure that building principals have a guide to use that is district and board-approved, a Columbus Schools Hiring Rubric has been developed with input of central office staff and principals. All decisions regarding the RIF were made in a fair and consistent manner, to address the financial crisis the school district is in. Columbus Schools values its teachers and all staff members, and will do everything possible to ensure a quality school system for all our students.  

The following is the Hiring Rubric that will be used in returning the district to pre-RIF levels:


In her closing statements during our interview yesterday, Dr. Liddell stated she wanted to be open and fair, and she repeated that she was hoping to rehire as many affected teachers as possible.

The next several months should be interesting for the CMSD.  Stand by!

By the way…still no Robert or Del sightings!!!  And, they say they always return to the scene of the crime!!!!

Joseph B. St. John

A/K/A MoJo

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2 Comments on “At Week’s End for March 2, 2012”

  1. robert Says:

    Hey Joe, What happen to the CCVB post?????????????????????? Did you have to pull them ??????????


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