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State Board Accepts Staff Resignations

The Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education accepted the resignations of 19 employees as part of a voluntary separation plan approved in November by the board.

The plan was initiated in response to state budget shortfalls this year and in anticipation of future reductions.  Allocations to the agency were reduced five percent from July to November 2009 and 10 percent each month in December 2009 and January 2010. If reductions remain at 10 percent each month for the remainder of the fiscal year, the system’s budget is expected to be reduced by more than $11 million, resulting in a shortfall to the agency of about $3 million.

The separation plan allows eligible employees to receive a one-time payment of $5,000, $200 for each year of service and a payment equivalent to 18 months of insurance premiums for the employee only. Accrued annual leave balances also will be paid. The agency is obligated to pay all employees who leave unused accrued annual leave.

“We have been anticipating budget reductions for some time.  We have been extremely prudent in spending and have trimmed our expenses by implementing various measures, including not filling vacant positions,” said Phil Berkenbile, state director.

Cost of the separation plan to the agency in FY10 is $453,000. The separation plan will net savings of $136,000 in FY10 and $1.4 million in FY11.

With the reduction of 19 full-time positions, the agency’s full-time employee count is 294. Those resigning have been employed at CareerTech for from two to 30 years in 26 of the agency’s 59 divisions.

Depending on work schedules, the last day of work for employees taking the buyout will be either Jan. 28 or 29. Eleven employees are based in the Stillwater office and eight have offices throughout the state.

“Employees accepting the separation plan have been invaluable to the success of our system and the agency,” said Berkenbile. “Each one has made significant contributions in his or her area to advance the mission of CareerTech and make Oklahoma a better place to live and work. I am extremely proud of our staff and appreciate their commitment to this important work.”

One of the goals of the voluntary separation plan was to reduce personnel costs by about $2.4 million for FY11. That goal was based on 30 employees participating. With substantially less participation, the projected savings will be about $1 million less than outlined in the plan.  When the plan was prepared, the monthly cuts were 5 percent of budget allocations.  Since that time, the monthly cuts have increased to 10 percent and further reductions in FY11 budget are anticipated. Those factors will require the department to reduce expenses even further. Therefore, the department will implement a reduction in force plan to be presented to the board.

Written by: Paula Bowles

Publish Date: January 21, 2010

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