Duluth School Board OKs tenured teacher layoffs
DULUTH - The Duluth School Board approved the layoffs of 22 tenured teachers Tuesday night. Last month, the positions of 24 non-tenured teachers were terminated. The board voted 4-2 on Tuesday to approve the layoffs, about a 2 percent reduction i...
DULUTH - The Duluth School Board approved the layoffs of 22 tenured teachers Tuesday night.
Last month, the positions of 24 non-tenured teachers were terminated.
The board voted 4-2 on Tuesday to approve the layoffs, about a 2 percent reduction in tenured teachers.
"This by far is one of the most difficult things we have to do," said member Ann Wasson. "I want them to know we will try our hardest to get them back."
Members Gary Glass and Art Johnston voted against the measure. Tom Kasper was absent.
Johnston opposed it, he said, because he believes the Red Plan is causing the layoffs.
The $4.5 million deficit the district faced would be there with or without the Red Plan, said Bill Hanson, business services director.
That budget shortfall is identical to last year. About $1.3 million in cuts were made to noncertified staffing levels, and $1.3 million was gained through the consolidation to two high schools next year. Several other reductions were made to make up the deficit.
The layoff of teachers is due mostly to declining enrollment and a flat funding level from the state, said Tim Sworsky, human resources manager for the district.
The projected enrollment decline for the district next year is 3 percent. The decline for this past school year was 2.5 percent.
"There isn't one person on this list we would want to lose," Sworsky said. "It's sad; these are all quality teachers."
Some of the areas where the laid-off teachers were working are elementary schools, and in music, health and physical education, Sworsky said. The funneling of desegregation money -- which allowed for smaller class sizes at some of the elementary schools -- to closing the achievement gap led to some of those layoffs, he said.
Layoffs in terms of seniority went further this year than they have in the past, said Frank Wanner, president of the Duluth Federation of Teachers.
"It's really a tough thing for people trying to start their career," he said. "But it could be people with many years with the district. That's really tough."
He said layoffs lead to larger class sizes, which affect students who have the greatest needs. But declining enrollment and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty delaying payments to school districts puts them in a "double bind."
Some tenured teachers could be called back during the summer depending on new revenue sources and retirements, said Hanson, the district's director of business services.
"We just can't predict when," he said.