Teachers Learn Fates Today

Fade up sounds of lunch room

It's lunchtime at John Adams High School in Cleveland, but 10th grader Damond Macklin has more than food on his mind. He is frustrated about the comings and goings of all the instructors he's had as of late.

"We had like 10 different teachers this year and they teach different stuff and it's like they teach different stuff and it's like … we don't understand this stuff at all."

Layoffs in Cleveland City Schools were announced just a few days earlier. A total of 700 teachers will be leaving the district.

"Some of the teachers that are getting laid off are good teachers like Mr. Dore, he's a very good teacher."

That was Levonte Williams, a junior and a student of science teacher Gregory Dore, who just received his fourth layoff notice in the past three years.

Last year Dore was let go at the end of the school year, called back over the summer, laid off again on the first day of school and eventually called back again.

After ten years of teaching, Dore was surprised to get that first pink slip.

"I thought it was one of the most secure positions you could get, and actually I think when I did start in 2001 2002 it was a secure job."

Part of the reason there are so many layoffs and callbacks is that Ohio schools by law - have to write their pink slips by April 30th, but they don't get their budgets from the state until mid summer. Schools often layoff more teachers than they need to, hoping to call them back once their finances are more stable.

Dore says if it were up to him, he'd rather push back the day he's notified, AND be certain that when he's out of a job, he's really out of a job.

"This laying off and then recalling us its…it puts a lot of stress on us as teachers, whether or not we're going to have a job next year. It's very frustrating."

"Some of the budgetary process is so backwards."

That's Julie Sellers, President of the Cincinnati teachers union. Her district just cut 10 percent of its teaching force. She says layoffs are always on the mind of teachers, and she faults the school districts, who she says use it as a bargaining tool.

""Every time they say if we don't do this we'll have to lay teachers off. It's always something that's hanging over our heads."

No doubt all the paperwork and calculations of pay and benefits that comes with layoffs have administrative costs, especially when so topsy-turvey.

David Varda, Executive Director of the Ohio Association of School Business Officials says it can't be avoided.
And, Varda says, even if there was a way to move the entire legislative and budgetary process up a few months, districts don't find out how many students they lost until the fall. Plus they're always hoping voters might pass another levy.

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