14 percent of teachers at risk
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Greer went to district officials and fought for a change in the notification process. “We don’t want anyone to be excised,” he said. “But if it has to be done, let us know as early as possible. We worked with the district, saying, ‘You can’t excise people so late. Let’s look for a way to achieve an early notification of layoffs.’ Our goal was to give people enough time to find another job.”
Superintendent Dr. James Mapes agreed with Greer. “They didn’t have time to plan,” Mapes said. “This year we decided to prepare for the worst-case scenario.”
Mapes said that a contingency budget, with no allowable increases in spending, would require the district to cut about $9 million. His office estimated that that would mean laying off between 90 and 100 teachers, and, in cooperation with the BTA, the district used those figures to issue the 99 notices. Mapes and Greer both said they felt that notifying everyone who might be at risk was preferable to having anyone caught by surprise.
Mapes explained that if the budget were to increase by the state maximum, 3.14 percent for Baldwin, between 60 and 70 teaching positions would be in jeopardy — but that if the Board of Education gets the 7 percent increase it has requested from residents, the loss of staff would be between 15 and 20.
“A passed school budget will greatly reduce the number of layoffs that are necessary,” Mapes said. “If that is the case, then many of the teachers can be recalled to service in the district for 2013-14.”
Asked to explain the process by which teachers were chosen for layoffs, Mapes said that state education law requires that the least senior teachers be let go first. He also said that the district “divided the layoffs proportionately among tenure areas,” but added that subjects for which there are very few teachers were given special consideration to “avoid complete elimination of services.” Services for the hearing- and vision-impaired fell into this category, he said, as did business education, industrial arts, school library-media and home economics.