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Saturday, May 16, 2009

RIF Numbers Out

Notices came out yesterday and 172 teachers, counselors and other certificated staff have been RIF'ed. Most are teachers. In years past, many teachers have been rehired due to retirements or attrition but with the poor economy that may not be the case this time. That number represents about 5% of the 3,000 certificated staff in SPS.

From the Times:

"Along with 33 first- or second-year teachers whose contracts were not renewed a few months ago, that means that 205 of the district's certificated employees now need to look for work."

"High schools had 54 of the 172 layoffs. Middle schools had 29, elementaries 61 and K-8s 20, Spencer said. Six teachers on leave also were notified they no longer have jobs.

Staff members at 17 schools — those that are part of a joint union-district effort to close the achievement gap — were largely exempt from layoffs. Among them are Rainier Beach, Cleveland and Chief Sealth high schools and the middle and elementary schools that feed into them."

That last paragraph really bothers me (and I would think, teachers in general). All these schools' staffs are protected under the SE Initiative? That needs to be explained. We are protecting those jobs and, according to the preliminary BTA III list, pouring more funds into some of these schools (Cleveland will have 6 "high-tech" classrooms, whatever that means). In the SE we have too few kids attending RBHS and Cleveland for the space so when does the district make a tough decision?

I mean this with no dissrespect to those schools but it is an expensive gamble. Do we wait for those new classrooms to happen? How many years after the new assignment plan? What is the end point for the district if only because we are so short on money? According to the Seattle Police Department (from a report on KING-5 yesterday), the gang problem is getting bigger and worse.

Also, the Times reported in a separate story that the district and the SEA are going to negotiate the loss of one day for the teachers.

From the article:

"The district actually sent the same letter to each teacher twice — first by regular mail, then by certified mail.

The union viewed the letter as a violation of labor laws that require working conditions to be negotiated through collective bargaining. The union hasn't yet decided whether it will agree to removal of the training day. The bad feelings were compounded by the fact that district officials at first denied the letters had been sent. They later apologized, saying the first of the two sets of letters was mistakenly mailed earlier than intended.

Some teachers also were upset that the district went to the expense of sending certified letters, which cost about $5 each. The Washington Education Association has said it knows of no other district in the state that has sent out a similar letter."

Seriously? We paid all this money twice. (I think the contract should be negotiated that the teachers can sign for the letter at school or ask for it to be mailed home. That way you could save a lot of money and get a signature for the letter.) Teachers, you all got a certified letter?

24 comments:

owlhouse said...

Still wondering where- which schools lost teachers and how many?

Are there other possibilities for exemptions? If I'd know to ask, I'd have requested that schools impacted under "capacity management" also be exempt. Of course, given the situation with the musical principals, I'm sure that would not have been valued/honored.

westseattleteacher said...

Every teacher I know received the certified letter, though I didn't go pick mine up since I already knew what it said. It truly was a waste of scarce resources. If the District had just honored labor laws and our collective bargaining agreement, both letters would have been unnecessary. Now that they have wisely agreed to bargain the days, the letters are irrelevant.

I am also very disconcerted about the RIF exemption for flight schools. I asked one of my colleagues at a flight school what the rationale was for the exemption. She said she thought it was to minimize disruptions to students and families caused by staff changes. Teachers at flight schools are required and compensated for home visits with all of their students' families. Increasing parent involvement is one of their primary goals.

Nonetheless, every RIF is extremely disruptive to students, staff, families, and school communities. I can't see how it is more disruptive at a flight school than anywhere else. I am curious to find out if this exemption is written into the contract and how SEA is going to address it. If exemptions to the seniority system are acceptable in certain cases, perhaps the entire system needs to be revisited.

Sue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue said...

So let me just ask this question. Any takers on whether or not the superintendant is going to get another big raise this year?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I doubt she'll get a big one but she'll get one. I say that only because I think (a) she probably thinks she deserves it and (b)she expects it. Maybe she'll rise to the situation and wave it off if offered.

It is only my theory but I believe that last year she got one because she said she would leave and the Board didn't want that. I mean that with no malice but just that the Board gave her a raise before she was even here a year and what was the concrete evidence to give it to her? Every single thing she did was about what I would have expected any other superintendent to do.

A raise this year would need extraordinary reasoning and not just that she'd leave. (If you read posts in other threads, we can all surely hear the rumblings of people who wouldn't mind if she did.)

CuppaJoe said...

"I mean this with no dissrespect to those schools but it is an expensive gamble. Do we wait for those new classrooms to happen? How many years after the new assignment plan? What is the end point for the district if only because we are so short on money? According to the Seattle Police Department (from a report on KING-5 yesterday), the gang problem is getting bigger and worse."

WHAT does that last sentence have to do with the rest of your paragraph? Are you suggesting that Flight schools have a bigger gang problem than other schools? Any facts or did you just throw that in?

speducator said...

I'm not sure what Linda Shaw means by "largely exempt" but Chief Sealth laid off three teachers, and displaced at least seven other positions.

Chief Sealth is not part of the Southeast Initiative, but is involved in the Flight Initiative.
I've been told that this is probably the last year of flight. It has not produced the results that were advertised by the district.

Many of us were told that we had to agree and sign a contract that we would participate in flight if we wanted to keep our jobs at Sealth. Most of us did, although we questioned the legality of such a demand. Those that refused to sign, were indeed displaced.

Oh, yes, it is interesting that the district is complaining about money, but sees fit to pay $18,000 to send out non-renewal letters to teachers.

dan dempsey said...

I've been told that this is probably the last year of flight. It has not produced the results that were advertised by the district.WOW!!!

If that was only true universally. Imagine if when the district's plans failed to achieve results that a change was in order.

What a wonderful world it would be.

Josh Hayes said...

I sure hope she doesn't get a raise this year. Teachers being laid off, schools closing, tough times all around -- of course this isn't her fault (well, except for the layoffs and the closures), but a raise? Now? How absurd would that be?

And if the argument is, we have to give her a big raise or else she's leaving, I say, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Or do. I don't care either way.

It takes no great skill or understanding to be a hatchet man. If she leaves it's no great loss.

And I say that despite the WV's insistence on adding onions -- or oxingnon -- to my post.

CuppaJoe said...

Still waiting to hear what KING's report has to do with whether or not those particular schools should be funded -

dan dempsey said...

Wait just a minute.

Clearly I am failing in my ability to comprehend.

Are individuals here suggesting that MG-J was going to break a valid contract and leave? The board saw this and as a result offered a contract extension and a raise.

Now at that time the board violated B.45 with a slam/dunk.
I should hope that MG-J is just pleased as punch with her contract and has every intention of fulfilling it. Otherwise she needs to improve her fielding and sharpen up her hitting for the Yankees.

suep. said...

Didn't Mayor Nickels recently return his pay raise? Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson should demonstrate similar integrity and should not ask for nor accept a pay raise in this current economic climate -- and in light of all the pain and disarray being inflicted across the district by her and the district's extremely questionable actions.

h2o girl said...

Can someone please elaborate on the Flight Initiative? It's been in place longer than the Southeast Initiative?

Thanks much.

Megan Mc said...

I've heard that AS#1 had 1 teacher RIF'd and another was directed to take a new position at another school before the RIF's were sent out. I have not heard if she was RIF'd from the new position.

I agree with Josh, if the Super wants to walk, let her go. Its a tough economy out there. We'd probably get a lot more candidates for the position than we did 3 years ago.

dan dempsey said...

Megan Mc said:
We'd probably get a lot more candidates for the position than we did 3 years ago.You could be correct. On Tuesday we interviewed Math teachers on the Rez.
Usually it is hard to find a fully credentialed NCLB highly qualified teacher for high school math among the few applicants.

This time after initial screening we interviewed 6 all NCLB HQ with math degrees. Two were fabulous with 3 of 6 being exceptionally strong for our advertised position.

I have no idea what the pool of Superintendents looks like?

Melissa Westbrook said...

First, I didn't say flight schools nor did Linda Shaw in her piece.

I wrote about the gang problem because of the number of incidents in those areas and the police saying the gang problem is growing (and I am aware that this means throughout the city). I say that because the principals at south end schools don't want the same start times so as to avoid having some groups coming to school at the same time. I say that, not out of disrespect, but out of the belief that, once again, schools are expected to do it all and they can't. The district can do a lot but they can't make it safe.

I know someone who grew up in NYC and NYC deliberately placed some of the best magnet schools in the most difficult areas. And to this day, they are still great and popular schools. But they also made them an oasis of safety in these areas with the best teachers and resources. Can we say the district and the City will do this for struggling schools in our region? I worry, that like Rainier Beach and its performing arts hall (that got built with no program attached), that Cleveland will have a STEM program that won't have the best teachers and that the City won't join the effort and make Cleveland a safe place where any parent in this city would feel good about sending their child.

Please don't look for bad reasoning in what I say. I do truly want the best for every single school. But the follow-thru on such efforts (witness the Flight Schools and Ignite) by the district hasn't always been there.

CuppaJoe said...

Perhaps doing more than slapping the gang problem on there with those three schools, like explaining your thinking, would go a long way. Not everyone will agree with you, but it would go a long way. Otherwise it's irresponsible and does little more than perpetuate stereotypes. Like those NY schools you cite, the positives can be highlighted so that more parents DO want to send their kids there.

In case you missed this PI article last summer, take a look at the map and see that there are issues around a lot more schools than just the three you mentioned. This includes many points north and plenty outside of Seattle.
http://tinyurl.com/oo2aln

SE Mom said...

To echo H20 girl's questin: Could someone please provide some background about the Flight Initiative?

speducator said...

I believe westseatleteacher mentioned an exemption for flight schools.

Actually, we were promised an exemption from RIF or displacement. That all ended this year. As I said in my previous post, we had three RIFs, and 7 displacements. I can't speak for Cleveland, and Rainier Beach. But those two high schools are also southeast initiative schools.

The idea behind flight is that teachers would agree to visit 10 families per year in their homes, with follow-up on a multi-year basis. The administrators were also supposed to be making home visits.

The first year of flight at our school, none of the administrators made flight visits. The entire process was poorly managed.

For those of you interested, here is a link explaining in greater detail about Flight.

www.seattleschools.org/area/board/111407agenda/partnershipspresentation.pdf -

dan dempsey said...

The first year of flight at our school, none of the administrators made flight visits. The entire process was poorly managed.What else is new? or not.

Charlie Mas said...

The first year of the Southeast Initiative was so poorly managed that the district wrote it off.

The Initiative was supposed to be a three-year project from September 1, 2007 to August 31, 2010. After the first year was completely wasted - they didn't even finish the work that was supposed to be done during the summer of 2007 - the District staff re-characterized it as a "planning year", a year zero instead of year one.

chalkdust said...

Most educators received their RIF notice during teacher appreciation week - what a slap in their face.

Also, I calculated that the district spent around $21,000 on their mailings (that is enough money for 0.5 of a classified position!)

Roy Smith said...

Only vaguely related to the topic, but this article relates a rather amazing tale out of Los Angeles: L.A. Unified pays teachers not to teach.

TechyMom said...

Is there a list of which teachers at which schools were RIF'd anywhere? Assignment letters go out today, and I have to make a public vs. private decision by the first. Knowing which teachers are gone could have a pretty big input on my decision.

Does anyone know if the Technology teacher is still at Montlake? He was a big part of why that school was so high on my list.