Bedford Schools to lay off 14 to 17 teachers, educators


TEMPERANCE — The Bedford Public Schools will send layoff notices to 15 teachers and other educators for the next school year to help close a persistent operating deficit. The board of education authorized the potential pink slips at a special meeting today.

Interim Superintendent Jon White said the district was required to give the notices by Monday, and officials do not know at this early date how many teachers, speech pathologists, and others would actually lose their jobs. The number called back depended on the retirements, resignations, and voluntary layoffs the district received.

"No one wanted to do this," he said after the meeting.

"They are going to receive notices that they are subject to layoff and that they can be recalled. If the numbers change, they will be eligible for recall based on a variety of factors," including their evaluations, he explained. Michigan law does not allow bumping by seniority.

The board voted 4-1 to approve the notices. Board member Dee Ellsworth voted against the measure.

The recipients of the notices are represented by the Bedford Education Association.

Colleen Jan, president of the union, accused the school of rigging the system they use to evaluate teachers in such a way that it puts educators in a lower category so they are not called back.

"The evaluation tool in our opinion is being used in effect to potentially terminate people," she said.

The district has been down this road before.

A year ago, it sent out layoff notices to 45 teachers, all of whom were recalled except one. Two years ago, 103 teachers received the notices - more than a third of the district's teaching staff - and 80 were recalled and returned to their jobs in September.

The layoffs of 2011 stemmed from the closing of Smith Road Elementary School at the end of that academic year. This year the district will close Temperance Road Elementary after the last day of classes, June 7.

The Bedford district has been struggling to makes ends meet in the face of declining enrollment and reduced state funding, and has submitted two deficit elimination plans to the Michigan Department of Education that bind the school system to a rigid schedule of cost-cutting.

The first plan aligns spending with revenue by the end of the 2014-15 school year. The second plan, which has not yet been approved, gives the district an additional two years to implement the same cuts. The district had predicted ending this school year with a $1.2 million deficit.