JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The Jones County School District is shortening a handful of teacher contracts to reduce costs and put them on par with other districts' contracts.
"We did have a very small group, about 11 teachers that work in our career and technical area, that had been on an extended contract," Superintendent Tommy Parker said. "We began to look at the length of those contracts as compared to the number of days that we had students in school, and we felt like we needed to adjust the length of those contracts back to be more in line when we actually had students in school."
Students in Jones County attend class 180 days per year, and a typical teaching contract in the district is 187 days.
Parker said the four agriculture teachers and seven teachers who work at the district's career and technical center had contracts to work between 230 and 240 days per year.
"The standard seems to be for a career and technical contract about 200 days, which is 13 days longer than a standard teaching contract," Parker said. "That allows them time to take care of their extra curricular activities and things that they'd be required to do during the summer."
Rather than immediately shortening contracts and teacher pay by 30 or 40 days to meet that average, Parker said the new contracts are 215 days long.
"Obviously, if someone's contract is reduced from 240 or 230 days to 215, then their obligation to the district is going to be reduced, but the amount they receive in annual salary is also going to be be reduced," he said. "We have made the adjustments to that. We're going to continue to look at that and other areas to see where we can continue to provide our services to our students, but take care of our money in an efficient and effective way as well."
But Parker said making sure his district has a streamlined budget is not just good financial practice.
"We're doing that because that's what our state leaders are doing," he said. "We don't know what to expect in the future as far as funding for our schools."
He said all district salaries are determined using the Jones County School Board approved salary schedule.
"Because we're in education, (salary) is based on a person's degree, the number of years of experience they have, and also the number of days that they work," Parker said. "All of it across the board is based on degree, experience and the area of responsibility or the magnitude of of the responsibility you have, which can be based on the number of students that you have in your school. So the number of students can go up or down to cause an administrator's salary to go up or down based on the number of students. We even take a look at the number of people that they supervise because some of our schools have some special programs located on their campuses that might not have a lot of students, but it require a lot of manpower."
Parker said he and the school board feel the district does a good job of keeping its budget lean.
"We think we do," Parker said. "We've got a few more areas we need to take a look at to make sure we're as lean as possible. We just, like all other state agencies, we're trying to make our organization get the most bang for our buck because it's important we do that. We've got an important service to provide to our students, and we need to avoid anything that can be viewed as waste."