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Atlanta school district could cut 495 jobs

The Atlanta school board will vote tonight on plans to trim the district’s workforce by about 300 positions.

That includes eliminating 495 jobs, most of them school-based positions, as well as creating about 200 new jobs.

More than half of the jobs slated for elimination are at schools that will be closed, merged or put under outside management as part of plans to improve Atlanta’s lowest performing schools.

But other schools will also lose staff, according to board records:

  • Dobbs Elementary School will lose four teaching positions;
  • Douglass High School will lose four positions, including a counselor;
  • Harper-Archer Middle School is set to lose 10 positions, including teachers;
  • Morningside Elementary School will lose band and orchestra teacher positions;
  • At North Atlanta High School, a performing arts teacher position will be cut; and
  • Gideons Elementary School, which is scheduled to be managed by a charter school group in 2017, will lose about 7 positions, including music, physical education and world language teachers.

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Some of the cuts — including the ones at Dobbs, Harper-Archer and Gideons — are due to expected drops in enrollment, district spokeswoman Jill Strickland said. Strickland said listing music positions at Morningside among those slated for elimination was an error and would be corrected.

The cuts come as the board plans to spend $10.5 million on raises and bonuses for existing staff.

Several central office departments — including accountability, finance and maintenance — will also see steep cuts. District officials previously put the number of central office jobs to be eliminated at about 50. The plan the board is set to vote on tonight shows a net loss of about 80 central office positions.

Earlier this month, local AFSCME administrator Alan Lee called the cuts “a shell game.”

“It is an effort to displace a group of workers and replace them with a different group of workers,” he said.

School superintendent Meria Carstarphen said the cuts were an effort to rein in Atlanta’s administrative spendingamong the highest in the nation compared to other big-city districts — and bring school staffing in line with enrollment. The cuts do not target any particular department, she said.

“I fully reject the notion that we’re targeting anyone on race or age or anything else,” she said.

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