Cuts come to school employees

COLUMBIANA – The failure of Columbiana’s bond issue last month is being felt by some staffers, including cooks and aides.

The board of education this week approved reducing the hours of 18 aide, cook, cashier and custodial positions among the three school buildings.

A majority of the positions affected were at South Side Middle School and Superintendent Don Mook explained the changes are part of the reorganization needed as the district moves students for the new school year.

The district had hoped the $4 million bond levy would pass voter approval at the May 7 election. The money generated over 29 years would have gone toward refurbishments at the 50-year-old school, with the main work being the replacement of the leaking roof.

Since those repairs will not be happening any time soon students in fifth grade are being moved to Joshua Dixon Elementary and sixth-graders to the seventh and eighth grade wing of the building while the district works to patch the roof in the meantime.

The patching will be paid for out of the general fund, which is something the district had hoped to avoid through the bond issue.

The board of education had approved last month closing the 1962 section of the middle school building and moving the students, knowing it would result in staffing changes.

Of the positions affected Tuesday, one was a reduction in force.

Mook said Dorlene Kelley was laid off due to the abolishment of her three-hour aide position. She was selected for the RIF since she was lowest on the seniority list, he explained.

Treasurer Lori Posey estimated the change will save the district about $5,500 a year.

Kelley’s last day to work was May 30.

Mook said teaching staff at the high school are essentially not being disrupted as a result of the move, and added that equipment in the closed portion of the middle school building has already been moved in preparation for the new year.

“The process is under way, and we are sure we are going to be in a good position at the beginning of the school year,” he said.

The middle school cook and cashier positions are being reduced since the kitchen will be closed as well.

Mook said the students in the remainder of the middle school building will have lunch in the high school commons.

The middle school and high school buildings on Columbiana-Waterford Road are connected, although the high school is in better shape from a facility standpoint, according to school officials.

While moving forward with their back-up plan, the district is continuing to hope voters approve the additional tax and passed legislation Tuesday to put a $4 million bond on the Nov. 5 election ballot.

It is the third time since last August the district has sought the bond for South Side Middle School.