Thursday, April 27, 2000

CPS lays off 98 teachers

Union objects to decision

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        After a 90-minute closed-door session Wednesday, the Cincinnati Board of Education approved eliminating 98 teachers from the district.

        “This is not a list of in- effective teachers,” said Board President Rick Williams. “This is a list of people who don't have the required training or level of degree or don't have the tenure.”

        District officials determined they would have to cut teacher jobs after the failure of a tax levy in March and a decrease in state funding as a result of declining enrollment.

        Though the cuts are fewer than the previously proposed 111 positions, the board's 4-3 decision still did not sit well with teachers union officials, who said Wednesday's action was unnecessary.

        Rather than opt for a list based on seniority, board members favored the list that focused on those teachers who didn't have advanced degrees or specialized training.

        Those who were let go, according to Cincinnati Public Schools spokeswoman Jan Leslie, also had the least seniority among the pool of teachers considered.

        CPS officials said 51 job eliminations came from recommendations by individual schools that couldn't afford to keep them under budget constraints.

        The remaining 47 were casualties of decreased enrollment.

        Tom Mooney, outgoing

        Cincinnati Federation of Teachers president, said attrition among elementary school teachers could have covered most of the necessary reductions.

        He also criticized the district, saying the cuts seriously crippled a program that has done good things for Cincinnati public school students.

        He was referring to the University of Cincinnati's Initiative for Teacher Education program, which requires prospective teachers to get a bachelor's degree in a subject other than education and then spend a full fifth year as a part-time teacher.

        The district uses more than 80 interns from this program to supplement its teaching staff.

        As a result of Wednesday's actions, eight new positions for next year that would have been shared by at least 16 interns have been lost. CPS students taking elementary education and English will have no interns to help them learn.

        District Superintendent Steven Adamowski acknowledged that the program took a hit Wednesday, but he said it would have taken an even bigger one if the board had used the seniority-based list.

        Some board members wanted to put off a decision Wednesday so teachers could be made aware of the criteria that would determine whether they keep their jobs. That was rejected.

        District officials said teachers should already be aware of the criteria since they are written in their contracts.

        “The most unfortunate thing is that we don't have funding in place to keep all these teachers,” said Mr. Williams. “It's very difficult to know that you are making a decision that renders someone unemployed. ... We only hope that we can have the enrollment and funding next year so we can bring them back.”


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