Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Some teachers regain jobs

School board action had been criticized

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Cincinnati Board of Education voted Monday to reinstate 25 elementary teachers after nearly a month of wrangling with the local teachers union that began when 98 teachers were essentially fired.

        The board voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of Cincinnati Public Schools administrators, who said the call-backs should be made after a recalculation of anticipated teacher attrition.

        “Normally we would assess the situation in June, but with board interest, we thought we would see what we could do now,” said district superintendent Steven Adamowski. “This is a calculated risk, but it's not reckless and it should create more stability.”

        The original layoffs were made late last month. District officials said that two recently failed levies, a shrinking birth rate and a drain caused by charter schools meant fewer teachers were needed.

        But the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers claimed that not only were some layoffs unnecessary because of normal attrition, but that district administrators changed criteria for those who will keep their jobs, without noti fying teachers.

        And earlier this month, the board voted to halt the layoffs and institute a hiring freeze. But that vote was invalid because not all board members were present.

        “We may appear that we are flip-flopping on this issue, but we have to make the non-renewal decision when we do by law,” said board member Lynn Marmer. “But as a board we are doing all we can to alleviate the heartache that is caused by this situation as quickly as we can.”

        After the vote, Ms. Marmer asked that the board create an ad hoc committee to study the process by which teacher contracts are not renewed.

        Interim Cincinnati Federation of Teachers president Karen Jones said that all 48 elementary teachers who were non-renewed should get their jobs back.

        “We still believe you're going to have to call them back anyway,” Mrs. Jones said. “So we need to re-establish some stability for their families, schools and communities.”

        In other business, the board hired Michael J. Geoghegan as assistant treasurer until he completes certification and takes over for departing treasurer Dick Gardner, who is now treasurer for Mason City Schools.

        Mr. Geoghegan, 49, of Madeira, is currently director of finance for the Hamilton County auditor's office. As assistant, he will be paid $90,950, which will go up to $113,000 a year when he becomes treasurer.

        Once he becomes certified, which is expected by January, Mr. Geoghegan will report directly to the board and is responsible for overseeing the district's finances.

        The board also approved the hiring of Michael Berson as the district's director of facilities. Mr. Berson, 51, of Mount Auburn, who is current site manager for University Hospital, will make $91,000 over the next year.


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