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No herd of probationary teachers?
Mpls issues list
By Doug Mann, 26 September 2004

Thanks to the realignment process, nearly all of the regular Ed teachers on probationary status who were laid off and didn't find another teacher job can get their jobs back. The district claims that the realignments were done to preserve the employment of tenured teachers (The district is not required by law to preserve the jobs of any probationary teachers).

Edited version of a post to the mpls issues list
Subj:      [Mpls] No herd of probationary teachers? Just a handful?
Date:     9/26/2004 6:09:31 PM Central Daylight Time

In a message dated 9/25/2004 9:21:09 PM Central Daylight Time, Dan McGuire writes, under the heading Re: [Mpls] Why is "culling" so bad?

"...there are only a handful probationary teachers in the district this year and for the near future.  So, there aren't any probationary teachers to spread around and it's not likely that there will be many any year soon.   As my Grandpa Jimmy would say, you can dream up a good plan for roping calves, but if you don't have a herd and a horse, all you got is wind."

The district Laid off 455 probationary teachers this past spring and summer, and needed to rehire or replace a majority of them this fall. That's a lot of probationary teachers, considering that last year there were fewer than 1,700 full-time teacher positions *budgeted* for regular and special Ed programs, and that since 2001-2002, when the most-senior of last year's probationary teachers were hired, the actual number of regular Ed teacher positions decreased by more than 350 (and possibly higher than 400 if the district administration didn't fill more teacher jobs than needed to hit its class size targets).  

Why are there 455 teachers who were hired during a period when more than 350 teacher positions had been cut?  Part of the reason is high turnover and no position cuts in Special Ed. The district laid off all of the probationary teachers in special Ed positions, and didn't plan to rehire more than a few. The administration realigned high seniority elementary teachers into special Ed programs and elsewhere in order to preserve the employment of probationary teachers in the regular Ed programs.

The district refuses to disclose how many teacher positions that were budgeted for last year were actually filled. Since enrollment was about 1,600 below expectations, and the district waits to rehire some of its laid off teachers until after school starts, I expect that at least 30 to 50 positions were not filled, and there were also a few midyear layoffs, some midyear quits, plus notices of intent to resign / retire effective at the end of the school year (again no figures from the district).

Let's say the district was definitely planning to fill just 90% of regular Ed teacher positions prior to the first day of school (leaving 110 teacher positions unfilled). And let us further assume that there would be a surplus of 150 teachers who were employed last year and didn't resign prior to April 1, 2004, if the district administration's plan was to fill 100% of the regular Ed positions. The district would need to lay off 260 teachers in order to fill 90% of the regular Ed teacher jobs prior to the start of the school year. However, if you lay off 608 teachers, and one-fourth (152) of them find new jobs, you will have to rehire or replace a large majority of the teachers who didn't get jobs, which of course is going to require a lot of teacher re-realignments after school starts in order to ensure that everyone can get rehired.

If the district fills all of the budgeted positions and at least 150 teachers have found other employment and don't want to return to work for the district, the district might be able to re-employ the rest of the laid off teacher through another realignment process.

But do you see Louise Sundin threatening to sue the district if it doesn't re-realign the teachers to make sure that everyone who can be rehired and wants to be rehired is rehired?  Sundin threatened to sue the district if it rescinded this summer's realignments, claiming that all of those realignments had to be done to save the jobs of tenured teachers. But some of the jobs that were preserved through the realignment process were the jobs of probationary teachers in regular Ed programs, including a herd of elementary classroom teachers still on probationary status last year.  Any honest judge would dismiss the lawsuit, sanction the union's lawyer, and force the union to pay the pay the district for legal costs incurred because the lawsuit is clearly frivolous, unless the union was acting in good faith based on false or misleading information given to it by the district.

-Doug Mann, King Field
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