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HUNTINGTON — Members of the Cabell County Board of Education unanimously approved new policy changes Tuesday that determine how and which elementary school teachers are affected by reduction-in-force (RIF) and subsequent preferred recalls.

The updates outlined in three policy statutes — Reduction In Force, Reduction in Classroom Teaching in Elementary Schools and Preferred Recall List — were rewritten to place a higher priority on qualifications rather than simply seniority when selecting teachers for RIF, transfer and preferred recall. Seniority is, however, to be considered among other attributes that would contribute to being qualified overall.

The changes were required to bring the county in line with recently amended state code at the direction of the West Virginia Department of Education and consultation with the West Virginia Education Association and the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers.

Reduction-in-force policy is common in many workforces, particularly in education, in which employees are removed from their positions, often due to lack of funding or reorganization. In Cabell County’s case, as it is in school districts across West Virginia, RIFs are generally the product of the loss of state funding generated by shrinking enrollment.

RIFs at the school level could be the product of schools eliminating or changing certain course offerings or programming or simply if the district cannot guarantee it will continue the position in the next school year. In the past, these typically affected younger employees with less service time.

One example would be if a kindergarten teacher position was eliminated based on declining enrollment, meaning that teacher could then bid on other positions in his or her certification posted prior to the next school year.

Once employees receive a RIF notice, they may rebid on new job postings listed by the county prior to the school year, with preferred recall granted to RIF recipients.

In the past, more senior employees could instead be transferred to new positions within their certification, as the RIF and rehiring process most often affects staff with less service time. The policy no longer weighs seniority as the sole determinant for a transfer, but rather qualifications for the new role.

Cabell County Schools is staffed by around 1,250 professional employees and roughly 590 service personnel.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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