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Cox explains bookkeeper decision
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Director of Schools Dr. Jerry Hale says the school system will be laying off 36 people, including teachers and aides, this coming school year.
Hale’s comments, made Monday during a county Education Committee meeting, brought questions about why the school system is keeping its financial department at full strength, despite several of those jobs being moved to the county administrative building.
“Why you keeping the 10 bookkeepers for since you’re duplicating the service?” asked Commissioner Michael Martin. “That’s $400,000.”
In response, incoming Director of Schools Bobby Cox answered, “I told those people I can guarantee them a job for a year. I have said from the beginning that if we have people retire, if we have people leave, then I will look at reducing those amounts. That’s what I’ve said from the beginning.”
The comments come amid controversy after the county passed the 1981 Act last year. The move created a central financial department – and seven new county jobs.
Cox said one school system employee, Anita Nunley, left the system for a job with the county, and they didn’t fill her position. He also said when Kay Davenport retired, her position was not filled. Davenport is working part-time until July to help out during the transition.
“Over time, I think we will start reducing some,” said Cox.
Dr. Hale informed the committee, “Franklin County has the most efficient system we have found. They started with 16 (bookkeepers) and after 10 years they have been able to pare it down to 10.”
Cox went on to say he feels keeping the staff at current levels is the best thing to do right now.
Commissioner Martin responded, “You’ve got teacher’s aides going to lose their jobs. You’ve got other people going to lose their jobs. Do you need 10 bookkeepers?”
Bobby Cox and Dr. Hale both answered, “Yes” with Cox saying, “If we can’t report accurately” and Dr. Hale finishing, “everyone will lose their jobs.”
Cox said they are looking to scale back in the future. “Right now,” he stated, “I feel like it is best for us to do our business until everybody gets comfortable with the position, then I’ll look into it.”
Commissioners Terry Bell, Diane Starkey, Joel Akers, Morris Bond, and Clinton Hill were present for the meeting. Also attending were County Executive John Pelham, Director of Schools Dr. Jerry Hale, and Incoming Director of Schools Bobby Cox.