Over the last couple of months, our office has been hot and heavy with making budget decisions. Budget time always brings about speculations and rumors… typically dealing with personnel issues. The biggest issue that most divisions face in regard to personnel decisions is the RIF (Reduction in Force) policy. Our policy is written so that administration can make decisions in the best interest of education our children. It is a pretty vague policy…leaving the interpretation up to those in charge of personnel decisions. Our county’s position is typically, “last hired, first to be let go.”
Although I do not make the personnel decisions in our county, those decisions have an impact on the grants and programs that I manage as Director of Instruction and Grants. Since the ARRA/Ed Jobs funds came into play with school divisions, our division was careful not to hire for positions which could not easily be worked into the budget somehow. The greatest impact from these funds has been from the Ed Jobs funds. These funds were intended for personnel reasons only… no materials, equipment, etc could be purchased with these funds. For us, this impacts a few positions at the end of this budget year because staff hired with those funds were on two-year contracts. Those contracts end this year and since those contracts were specifically for those funds they unfortunately do not qualify for the RIF policy in the way that our division has implemented the policy. Of those positions, our division staff is working hard to find places in the regular operational budget so that these jobs can be saved. For the most part, that is going to work out. Our division administration is working hard to not have to use the RIF policy for this budget year. This cannot be said for all school divisions across the state, as budget cuts will be forcing RIF policies to be used.
In studying policy this semester, I have a further understanding as to the importance of having a good policy in place. Policies which are too descriptive can hold divisions to policy implications which cannot be enforced (i.e. guys wearing ties every Monday). Policies which are too vague can be left open for interpretation and therefore are more open for grievances and court cases. Policies should be carefully developed and implemented as they are written.