Sussex Tech To Let Go 20 Faculty Members Next School Year - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Sussex Tech To Let Go 20 Faculty Members Next School Year

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GEORGETOWN, De. - At Sussex Tech, some faculty members got some bad news this week.

Twenty-four people will be let go from their positions next school year, due to budgetary problems. On top of this, a hiring freeze, will prevent four more potential faculty members from being hired.  

The school district said this all could be prevented if the state legislature takes action before then. Superintendent A.J. Lathbury said the unique nature of the school district mandated that they could only raise more money through a legislative bill to raise taxes county-wide. 

Lathbury provided WBOC with a list of the positions on the chopping block that include 11 teachers, 3 teaching assistants, three administrators, two secretaries, as well as a counselor, a psychologist, a nurse, a PIO, and a coordinator. 

Lathbury said these decisions were difficult.

"It's not easy," he said. "I mean, we know these people on a personal level. We go to church together, we work together, we play together. So, It's hard decisions."  

Unlike other school districts, Sussex Tech is not able to raise funds through a referendum. Through Title 14, subsection 2602, the state mandates that the district can only raise funds through legislative action. 

Beforehand the school district's financial situation needs to be evaluated by a tax rate review committee. On this committee are various members from financial, governmental, and educational backgrounds. 

In March, 2013 the committee was called, and after months of deliberation, they affirmed the need for tax increases in November, 2013. In the aftermath, the school now must wait for someone from the legislature to act. 

Until somebody proposes the bill, Lathbury said the school district has been forced to cut. 

"The biggest line item is personnel," he said. "And we've done every other cost containment features we can think of short of programmatic cuts." 

Lathbury said the school had already talked to various legislators, and told WBOC that there is a potential sponsor already in the making, although he did not mention a name. He said the sponsor would most likely be somebody from the Education Committee. 

The two Sussex County legislators in this committee are Ernie Lopes (R-Lewes) and Harvey Kenton (R-Milford). Both of these legislators represent school districts which are already facing referendums to raise taxes.

In the Milford School District, they will be voting to raise taxes for a new middle school on March 26. In the Cape Henlopen School District, they will hold a referendum on April 2 for a new elementary school. 

Outside the school Thursday, WBOC caught up with Rep. Steve Smyk (R-Milton), who was dropping his child off at school. He said he was hopeful a sponsor would emerge from the committee. He said it's important that they act so as to protect the school.

"To reduce their faculty by that amount so quickly is going to be detrimental to their mission," he said. 

The legislature will be back in session on March 18. 

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