Another School District Announces Lay-Offs

By: Jeff Allen Email
By: Jeff Allen Email

Teachers across Eastern Kentucky are getting pay raises mandated by the state, but school administrators say those raises could be costing dozens of teachers their jobs.

Harlan County School administrators say they're happy to see teachers get pay raises, but they say there's simply just not enough money in their budget to pay for all the costs that go with them and they say something's gotta give.

Cawood High School Teacher Tonya Allen says she was happy to hear teachers across the state would be getting raises next school year.

"I was excited at first. I drive from Pineville every morning, more gas money," she said.

But Tonya says she's been given the pink slip. Harlan County School administrators say she's one of nearly fifty teachers and other employees they've sent lay-off notices to and they say it's because of the mandated raises.

"Raises are well deserved. It's great to get raises for all your employees," said Mike Howard.

But school officials say state funding for the raises don't cover costs that go along with it like matching retirement pay for every employee.

"That of course is not going to be covered by the legislature so some districts are running into a tight budget on this," said Lisa Gross with the Kentucky Department of Education.

"We get a double whammy. Declining enrollment hits us very hard every year. The portions that are not funded in these raises," Howard said.

Tonya Allen says her lack of tenure makes her vulnerable, but she's hoping since she teaches English, a learning staple, that maybe she'll be called back into the classroom after other teaches retire. She says she's relying on her faith to get through the uncertainty.

"My initial fear was, how am I going to provide for my family, but he always comes through," Allen said.

Harlan County Schools are not alone. School districts across Eastern Kentucky have sent out these layoff notices. School officials in Pike County have sent out about 300 pink slips. But state education officials point out this happened several years ago when there was a budget shortfall but after teachers retired and money became available, many employees were hired back. They're hoping that will happen again this year.

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