Seattle School Board meeting toplines: Fewer teacher layoffs

June 17, 2009 6:44 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

We’re monitoring the Seattle School Board meeting (live on cable channel 26), where budget boss Don Kennedy has just said they’re cutting the number of teachers they expect to lay off – 103, instead of 160 – districtwide. No word yet what that means to West Seattle schools, but we’ll be checking. $5 million in restored funding is what he said is making this possible – $3 million from the lifting of “restrictions” on “stimulus” money, and most of the rest from savings during the district hiring freeze this year. 8:05 PM UPDATE: Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson says principals notified the “recalled” teachers today. ADDED 8:29 PM: Here’s the PowerPoint that Kennedy presented, including information about the teacher “recalls.” And the district has just sent an official news release – read on:

Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson announced today that Seattle Public Schools will recall 57 of the certificated teachers who received reduction-in-force (RIF) notices in mid-May. In most cases, teachers will be able to return to the position they held at the time of the RIF.

Three factors contribute to the district’s ability to implement the recall at this time: recent clarity received from the state about stimulus funding; increased enrollment; and savings from the 2008-09 budget (e.g. funds saved as a result of the hiring freeze). These factors combined provide $5 million that we are directing towards recalling 57 teachers.

“I am very pleased to be able to recall 57 of our teachers,” said Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson. “Our teachers are at the very heart of our success, so our first priority when funds become available is to restore teaching positions. As we had hoped, increased enrollment, recent clarity from the state about stimulus funding and savings from the hiring freeze implemented last December combine to give the district the flexibility to restore approximately 35.6 per cent of the teaching positions previously deemed necessary to RIF.”

The determination of which additional positions to fund has been based on enrollment data and the program needs in schools. The recall of teachers who were RIF’d will proceed according to the contract with the Seattle Education Association (SEA) – by seniority within category. The district will match the category of positions funded at our schools with the most senior teacher on the RIF list in that category.

Information about the recall has been shared with SEA, and principals are informing those teachers who are being recalled.

The district’s top priority is to restore the recalled teacher to their previous position wherever possible. In those limited instances where that position has already been selected by a displaced teacher Seattle Public Schools is committed to working with SEA and the individuals involved to find the best possible resolution, on a case by case basis.

“There are still more than 100 teachers who remain on the RIF list,” said Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. “We are saddened that we cannot at this point recall these teachers, but we can not at this point predict the extent to which additional recalls may be possible over the summer. Principals and central office staff will continue to provide resources and support to those teachers the district has not been able to recall.”

Enrollment and program needs at schools result in the following categories of teachers being recalled:

• 28 elementary teachers
• 10 language arts high school teachers to replace a portion of the Pathways teaching positions that were eliminated (Pathways teachers support remedial programs for students not meeting standard on the WASL).
• 8 language arts/social studies middle school and high school teachers
• 4 teachers of elementary gifted education
• 3 bilingual teachers
• 4 science teachers

“I am very pleased that we are in a position to take this action now. The decision to RIF certificated teachers was a very difficult one, and I know how hard this time has been on our staff, families, and students,” said Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.

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