Although South-Western City Schools officials have cut 77.5 positions, only 20 employees have received letters informing them of pending layoffs.

Although South-Western City Schools officials have cut 77.5 positions, only 20 employees have received letters informing them of pending layoffs.

Gary Smetzer, assistant superintendent in charge of the district's personnel department, said the number of employees who will actually be laid off could shrink to 10 or 15 people by August.

"It'll decrease," Smetzer said. "The thing that really confuses people is the positions versus the people."

He said the decrease will come through attrition, from resignations between now and the start of the school year. Forty-eight employees retired in the 2008-09 school year.

Others will resign for various reasons, Smetzer said.

Job openings from the resignations and retirements will not be filled. Smetzer said that their duties distributed among remaining employees.

Many employees qualify for multiple positions in the district. Teachers, administrators and support staff can move from one position to another based on seniority.

"It's all driven by seniority," he said.

Smetzer gave as an example the position of custodian at Kingston School, one of the schools slated to close if the Aug. 4 levy were to fail. He said the current custodian at Kingston is the most senior custodian in the school district, and if his position disappears he likely will transfer to another school.

According to support staff rights within their union, the Kingston custodian would "bump" a custodian from another school with lower seniority.

Bumping is a right support staff union members have that allows more experienced workers to keep their jobs if position cuts are deemed necessary by school district officials.

Teachers and administrators are afforded the right to be placed on a "recall list by seniority," according to the lay-off letters. When a job opens and the administrator or teacher qualifies for the job, then that person can be recalled to work in that position.

According to layoff letters, the 20 employees scheduled to lose their jobs will be placed on a recall list. They will have a chance to come back to work as positions open in the district.

Openings are based on seniority and qualifications negotiated in the respective agreements between teaching, support staff and administrator unions, and the school district.

If the Aug. 4 levy passes, 24.5 of the 77.5 positions will be restored - 11.5 support staff, 8.5 athletic, 2.5 teaching and 2 administrative positions.

Athletic positions include three director, four secretary and 1.5 trainer positions.

Whether the levy passes or not, 33.5 teaching, 16.5 support staff and 3 administrative positions will not be restored.

Eliminating the 77.5 positions will save the district about $2.74-million, Smetzer said.

"There's 77.5 positions that aren't going to contribute income tax to the city," he added.

The school district employs 1,330 teachers, 994 support staff and 106 administrators.

The 8.3-mill, four-year levy will add approximately $21-million to SWCS revenues. It will cost homeowners an additional $254 per $100,000 of assessed home value annually.

Smetzer said contracts with the unions and school district do not address position restoration if the levy passes.

"It's uncharted territory for the school district," he said. "This is the part of it that nobody's experienced."

Smetzer added that district officials likely will have to work with union representatives to draft a memorandum of understanding to restore cut positions if the levy passes.

He said discussions with some union representatives are tentatively scheduled for June 30.