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Published: Thursday, 7/17/2003

More than 200 teachers face job loss

BY SANDRA SVOBODA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

About 200 Toledo Public Schools teachers hired a year ago won't return to their classrooms this fall, while nearly 100 hired the year before don't know for sure yet, district officials confirmed yesterday.

The nonrenewals are part of the district's cost-cutting plan approved last month in the 2003-2004 budget to offset a projected $15 million deficit.

Because 66 elementary teachers hired in 2001 had the same date of beginning employment, they first received letters notifying them of possible layoffs, said Clinton Faulkner, the district's executive assistant to the superintendent for human resources. Then at a meeting last week, they drew numbers in a lottery to determine seniority, Mr. Faulkner said.

“We had to send out letters to everyone in order to be compliant with the collective bargaining agreement,” he said. “We only really need about 15 of the 66. Not knowing which of the 66 it was, we had to send out letters to everyone.”

But Toledo Federation of Teachers President Francine Lawrence said the district notified many more teachers than it needed to about the layoffs.

“They've never computerized relevant information, so their record base is not sophisticated. They've overidentified and they've also misidentified in some categories,” she said. “A district of this size should be much more organized and computer-based in their personnel office.”

As part of the cost cutting, the board of education last month eliminated 230 teaching positions for fall. District officials asked Toledo Federation of Teachers union leaders to accept a $10 health insurance co-payment for office visits and prescriptions to save millions of dollars and dozens of teaching jobs.

The union refused.

“It's a damn shame,” school board member Larry Sykes said. “Their decision not to support the co-payment is costing these people their jobs. It could have been resolved. There's nothing more painful than being in an administrative position where you have to eliminate positions.”

Mrs. Lawrence said the district earlier neglected to negotiate changes to the teachers' health plan.

“When they had a chance to reach agreement on health care on a couple of different occasions, they either reneged on their agreement or we had no one to talk to so we were on hold,” she said. “We've had some discussions since then and intend to have additional discussions prior to the school year.”

One of the teachers who drew “a high number” at the lottery said she was confident that she would have a job with Toledo Public Schools for the next year. She asked that her name not be used.

But she said she hoped all spring the union would agree to the co-payment.

“I was all for that, believe me,” she said. “With the monstrosity of the whole thing, they're trying to do the best they can, but I don't see how this is all going to work out.”

Mr. Faulkner said the district would continue to project its staffing needs and determine how many teachers from the 2001 hiring group would not be needed.

“As we speak, that's in the process of even changing because as people retire, take new positions, quit, whatever reason, those numbers also could be reduced,” he said. “The numbers do fluctuate.”



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