The state’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is cutting 14 school positions to deal with a 38 percent drop in state funding over two years. The agency will also close another wilderness camp, this one in Jonesville for male teens, at the end of this month. This will be the second to close in two years, leaving 11 camps open. Most employees will be required to take seven days of unpaid furlough.
But DJJ Director Bill Byars said the impact could have been much worst. The agency’s final budget impact has been reduced by nine percent thanks to one-time federal stimulus funding.
Byars says this year has been much easier than it could have been, because the agency took the brunt of its cuts last year, laying off 285 employees and closing two dorms in Columbia and several group homes. He says his agency’s leadership reduced the budget pain this year considerably by spreading out the cuts over two years.
Byars notes that an early version of the 2010-11 state budget would have required closing half of the residential wilderness camps for students.
Byars says the executive staff will take a 10-day furlough, and some administrators like Byars will take a 14-day cut.
The agency will also put male and female students in the same classroom building and close a second school building.
(On Monday, SCRN will feature the second part of this story, where Byars will discuss programs that have made a difference at his agency, so much so that juvenile crime is actually going down.)