By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE - In the midst of news that Superintendent Rose Cameron would be retiring at the end the year, the Copperas Cove school board voted to authorize changes to staffing and programs for the 2012-13 school year, which would include layoffs.
Shortly after the board members were presented with cards, certificates and videos from staff and students in celebration of School Board Recognition Month, the trustees voted 6-0 (with member Doug Cook absent) on three agenda items that give Cameron the go-ahead to initiate the layoffs.
Cameron said the votes were a culmination of months of
discussion over just how the Copperas Cove Independent School District would cope with a projected $4 million budget gap next year.
"It was a collaborative effort," said Cameron. "I think we have listened and have preserved as much as we can while trying to make up (the budget) gap."
When Cameron unveiled the initial plan earlier this year, it called for the elimination of about 57 staff positions, including 32 professional staff and 24 paraprofessional staff.
Thanks in large part to an early-retirement incentive program, those numbers were reduced, and Cameron reported that only nine professionals and 21 paraprofessional positions will need to be cut.
Cameron also said the district will be cutting nine probationary contracts, which are usually given to teachers with between one and three years in the district.
"I'm sure some people are relieved," said Laura Harris, a science teacher at Copperas Cove High School who is on a probationary contract. "But as long as (the layoffs) are on the table, people are going to be worried."
Harris was one of the teachers laid off from the Killeen Independent School District last year, and said she did not relish the thought of having to go through the same situation a second time.
"I'm a graduate of Copperas Cove High School," said Harris. "I have a vested interest in this district and this community, and I want to stay."
Board president Joan Manning said the names of those being laid off would not be presented to the board until March.
While plans for future staffing levels and cuts were discussed at Tuesday's meeting, no mention was made of Cameron's decision to leave the district.
The superintendent announced she would be leaving at the end of this school year in a letter to staff made public late Monday afternoon.
Cameron, 53, who joined the district in 2003 as administrative assistant to the superintendent under Glenn Acker, has served as CCISD's superintendent since 2006.
Kevin Cameron, the principal of the Williams/Ledger Elementary School and Cameron's husband, also will be retiring from his position at the end of the school year.
Both the superintendent and the board declined to comment at the meeting though the district's spokeswoman, Katie Rudesheim.
Rudesheim, who also confirmed she would be leaving the district, offered to facilitate an interview with Cameron on the topic in the near future.
When asked if the board had any discussion about the prospect of choosing a someone to fill Cameron's shoes next year, Rudesheim reiterated a statement made in a board news release Monday, which stated the board has yet to announce any future plans related to the matter.
Jeff Gorres, a Cove parent who is currently deployed overseas, reacted to the news and questioned Cameron's decision to leave.
"She is leaving the district in a time of self-directed crisis," Gorres, who has been a vocal critic of the proposed cuts, wrote in a an email to the Herald. "Not really what I would call leadership."
Rudesheim, however, confirmed that Cameron would not be leaving until the current school year ended.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568.