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District 12 rehires majority of laid off staff

JOHNSBURG – Thirty-four of 39 District 12 staff members laid off in April were rehired at a school board meeting Tuesday evening.

A few staff members found other positions since the board voted on the April reduction-in-force, Superintendent Dan Johnson said. Between those departures and retirements, the district is aiming to “economize things.”

The details still are being worked out, he said, but it may involve sharing positions or teachers being split between the high school and junior high.

The board expected to be able to hire back at least some of the 35 teachers − all of its first- through third-year teachers, plus a few part-time employees − it laid off in April.

Reduction-in-force notices must be sent out at least 45 days before the end of the school year, and the board wanted to be able to respond to anything passed by the state Legislature. The 35 positions would have translated in to $1.5 million in savings.

The Legislature has yet to pass a budget or pension plan, but “the information we’re getting isn’t as draconian,” Johnson said. “It’s more positive.”

The goal is to pass a balanced budget this summer despite whatever might be coming down the pipeline in terms of state education funding or pension cost shifts, Johnson said.

The district had about 34 days of cash on hand at the end of fiscal 2011-12, according to the State Board of Education. The state grades districts on their finances, and it gives districts with 30 days or less its lowest ranking.

In the past, low fund balances and late state payments forced District 12 to borrow so it could pay its bills until the payments came in.

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