Giles County Teachers and Staff Surprised With Layoffs
PULASKI, Tenn.- During a typical summer Shannon Shirey would be researching
new ways to help her students, but this summer is anything but typical.
"I just received a phone call, and they just stated I would be
non-renewed for the upcoming school year," Shirey explained.
Giles County Schools are experiencing what some call a perfect storm.
"Everybody wants to blame one person," Shelly Goolsby, Giles
County Education Association President-Elect, said." "It's not
one thing to blame."
First, accounting errors from the Financial Management department misled
school board members about how much money they had in the bank. Inaccurate
reports led to a two million dollar mistake.
"That started the ball rolling, and from there it has picked up
speed," Goolsby added.
Secondly, students are leaving the district in droves, many say because
their parents have to move elsewhere to get a job in this economy. State
funding decreases when students leave the school system. The loss is estimated
at $176,000 next school year.
"We're just holding our breath hoping that the final piece of the storm
will not be County Commissioners cutting our budget," she said.
Shannon Shirey is one of about 80 teachers and support staff who have
received a pink slip.
"It hurts me more every day just knowing that all of these teachers are
getting ready, and I don't have a room to get ready," Shirey said.
"It's real upsetting, and it's hard."
The notices came in phases with many caught off guard. Most recently, the
school board approved another round of layoffs on Tuesday. In that instance,
tenured teachers were affected but they're not the only ones.
"It's just harder when there's a larger classroom," Shirey
explained about the consequences of the cuts. "Those kids that are right
there on the cusp, it's easier for them to fall further behind."
Heaviness looms over the district as the countdown begins to the start of
the school year.
"We want our children to have wonderful teachers with smiles on their
faces come August 1st," Goolsby said. "Whatever we have to
do to get there we will do it."
School leaders won't know how much money the district will receive from the County
Commission until they approve the budget in August. If the district receives
more than expected, some of those laid-off teachers and staff could be
State consultants are helping the Financial Management department get to the
bottom of the accounting problems. An audit has been commissioned and results
are expected in August or September.