LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Kentucky Department of Education will eliminate 49 jobs as it grapples with a 6.25 percent cut in the two-year upcoming budget that takes effect July 1.

The agency’s budget reduction plan also includes trimming service-based contracts with education partners and cuts to travel for school and district assistance, according to a staff memo sent May 3 by interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis.

“With our reduced resources, we will continue to keep as budgetary priorities, strengthening career and technical education, reducing the achievement gap, early literacy, assistance to struggling schools, and transition readiness (college and career),” Lewis wrote.

Of the 49 jobs on the chopping block, 24 involve contracted staff provided by school districts and education partners, according to the memo. KDE spokeswoman Nancy Rodriguez said 17 of those are subject area consultants in the Office of Teaching and Learning and seven work in novice reduction in the Office of Continuous Improvement.

“Those serving in these positions were notified of the non-renewals this week as were local school districts and partners,” Lewis wrote May 3. “We hope this will allow those on loan to KDE to return to work in their districts.”

The remaining 25 jobs throughout KDE are unfilled or will be eventually eliminated through attrition, he wrote.

“We sincerely hope we can avoid any further staff reductions, but cannot say that definitively at this time,” Lewis wrote. “We will keep you up to date if any additional staff changes are warranted.”

The memo says that KDE ultimately lost $53 million in the upcoming biennial budget, which boosted per-pupil funding for the state’s school system from $3,981 to $4,000. The spending plan also includes line-item programs and grants handled by the agency that were either cut or eliminated entirely.

Lewis wrote that he plans to share additional details on KDE’s budget reduction strategy at the June 6 Kentucky Board of Education meeting.

That will be the first state education board meeting after the May 30 deadline set by Lewis for the Jefferson County Board of Education to decide whether to accept or appeal his recommendation for state management of Jefferson County Public Schools following a 14-month audit. The local school board is scheduled to meet May 29, when it’s expected to make its decision.

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and kwheatley@wdrb.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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