Blytheville School District sends 24 RIF letters; cuts $1.5M in payroll for 2020-21

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

At the Blytheville School Board meeting Monday night, Superintendent Bobby Ashley announced that 24 employees of the Blytheville School District received Reduction In Force (RIF) letters.

“The number of personnel that received RIF letters was 24, but going into next year we also absorbed nine positions which added up to be 33 total,” said Ashley.

Ashley continued, “A partial RIF, which was for those whose contracted days were reduced, came out all together to 52 people. So overall it affected 85 of our employees.”

Board member Desmond Hammett asked, “Is there a list available for the board to review of those 85 positions that were affected?”

Ashley answered, “The names? No sir.”

Hammett responded, “Just the positions, not names.”

Ashley said, “Let me look into that, Mr. Hammett, if I’m legally where I can, I will share that with you. These positions have an opportunity to request a hearing before you, I don’t know if that would be a part of something I am not allowed to share.”

Hammett said, “At some point even if we were going in executive session to discuss personnel we need to understand the positions that we have eliminated where we may in the future see opportunities for challenges with the reduction that had to be made.”

“I will follow up on that,” said Ashley.

Erin Carrington asked, “Have we met our goal as far as what we were looking to reduce?”

Ashley responded, “The number was between 1.3 and 1.8 million, and we are a little bit over 1.5.”

“So the reduction in salaries is $1.5 million?” asked Carrington.

“Yes, everything total right now. If any other people leave we will evaluate that to see if those positions can be absorbed,” said Ashley.

Carrington then asked, “If others were to leave unrelated to the RIF, would that allow people that have been RIF’d the opportunity to come back?”

Ashley answered, “It would, it would give opportunities for them to come back.”

Ashley mentioned in his report that the new Chickasaw Arena was coming along and that there are a few loose ends that need to be finished.

“The gym is coming along, we are still trying to come up with a solution for the upper walking deck. There are some spots of rust and things like that and we are trying to get that resolved. They are just finishing up some loose ends. Also, the budget part of the gym on the financial report, our remaining balance is 1.5 million. That’s what we have left to finish some outstanding bills that we’ll still be getting,” said Ashley.

Curriculum director Sally Cooke gave a report on Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI) being used due to COVID-19.

“There are AMI packets for every building and every grade level. They are all printed and have all been handed out either prior to students leaving, or they are available in a printed packet for parents to pick up when they pick up lunches which are being served every day,” said Cooke.

Early in the meeting Erin Carrington was elected as the new school board president, Barbara Wells was elected vice president, and Michelle Sims was elected secretary.