NASHVILLE -- State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman plans to fire 26 employees as part of the department's belt tightening -- a move Gov. Bill Haslam indicated Thursday will be duplicated in other areas of state government in his upcoming budget.
Haslam said he believes "one of our responsibilities in government is we use taxpayer money as effectively as we can. And one of the things I'm constantly empahsizing, we're about providing the service. It's not about us as the employer, It's about how do we provide that service in the most effective way we can."
Haslam said it is each commissioner's "responsibility to make sure they have the right people in place and the right number within budget constraints. I think that's part of Commissioner Huffman's overall plans for the department."
Reports circulated that as many as 70 Education Department employees would lose their jobs.
"That's not true," Huffman spokeswoman Kelli Gauthier said in an email. "It is true that we will be abolishing 43 positions, 26 of which are filled, 17 of which are vacant."
She said that under a requirement in state law, the department "unfortunately ... had to notify more than 70 people to tell them their job could be affected, even though most of them will not lose their jobs."
"In the current budget climate, additional resources for the Department of Education are unlikely," Gauthier said. "At the same time, we are accountable for executing an ambitious strategic plan, and we must make sure the department is structured in a way that ensures we meet those goals."
Information provided by the department about the filled positions shows that nine administrative secretaries will be laid off. So will seven administrative services assistants. Six consultants will go as well.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...