Ellisville State School Human Resources Director Stephen Smith (left) and Department of Mental Health Human Resources Director Toni Johnson present a reduction in force request to the Mississippi State Personnel Board.

The Department of Mental Health received approval Thursday to continue the process of cutting jobs to comply with a recent federal ruling.

The Mississippi State Personnel Board approved the reduction of 21 positions from the Ellisville State School effective Nov. 30. Nineteen positions were full-time, and two were time limited, meaning those positions are paid through federal grants and employed for a predetermined amount of time.

Of the 21 positions, 13 were currently filled while eight were vacant.

Earlier this year, the department cut 53 positions from the hospital which provides long term residential care to adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

The cuts are required by a federal Medicaid rule that requires states to split the oversight responsibilities from the care functions under the Intellectual Disabilities/Developmental Disabilities Waiver Program. After Thursday’s cuts, 203 state positions have been removed through a reduction in force and more are expected, human resources director Toni Johnson told the board.

“There will not be a change in the type or amount of service people currently enrolled in the program receive,” the department said in a release.

Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources will absorb services for the patients, and most employees affected by the state job cuts will continue current work, but under community care providers instead of as state employees.

The department in April announced it would have to cut 650 jobs by 2018 to close a $19.7 million budget gap in the current fiscal year, the result of a $14.4 million budget cut this year combined with $5.3 million in new expenses.

The personnel board’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 14.


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Kayleigh Skinner joined the Mississippi Today team in January 2017 as an education and legislative reporter and advanced to a senior staff member in her four years with the company. Before joining Mississippi Today, Kayleigh worked at The Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat Tennessee, and The Commercial Appeal. She has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC Newsday Radio to discuss her reporting.