Two teachers involuntarily transferred due to reduced staffing allocation

By Katie Hanson and Alex Robinson

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The county decreased next year’s staffing allocation by 5.0 positions in March, forcing two full-time teachers to involuntarily transfer to other schools within the county next year and others to drop class periods. The reduction affected all academic departments, except for P.E. and Health.

Initially, 13 teachers were forced to either transfer to a different MCPS school or reduce their hours, but after receiving news of retiring staff, Principal Robert Dodd was able to reabsorb some of the affected teachers.

Dodd said he didn’t want to release which department had the highest net loss1.2 positionsin order to maintain privacy.

The main reason for the staffing reduction was a smaller incoming freshman class in comparison to the outgoing senior class, Dodd said. Since P.E. students are predominantly freshman, and because the P.E. and Health departments received new hires last year for the first time in many years, these departments didn’t lose any staff. Overstaffing in previous years and efforts for fairer resource allocation across the county could also have impacted the scale of the reduction, Dodd said.

“The system is always looking to use their resources to support schools with more needs,” Dodd said. “I’m sure that might have played a role.”

The state-wide deadline for teachers to announce their retirements is April 1, about one month after each school receives their annual staffing allocation. To get a sense of the departing staff before receiving the staffing allocation from MCPS officials, Master Scheduler Kristin Cody begins communicating with teachers in February every year.

After receiving the allocation, Dodd and Cody worked with resource teachers within each department to determine how the allocation would affect their teachers. Once all retiring teachers announced their planned departure, Cody and Dodd spoke with resource teachers again to see which affected departments had the greatest need for reabsorbed positions.

“When you initially get the staffing allocation, you don’t really know what people are going to do with their own professional careers,” Dodd said. “People retire, they’re going to leave, but you don’t know at that point. You have to inform people that, potentially, they’re going to have to be an involuntary transfer, and they’ll be guaranteed a job somewhere else. And then the dominoes start to fall over time.”

Aside from academic departments, the ESOL department lost 1.8 positionswhich results in losing nine out of 13 classes—and one part-time counselor was impacted.

ESOL resource teacher Sonja Maroni is concerned for next year’s ESOL program, she said. The staffing reduction means that the entire department will only have one part time teacher next year.

In addition to the staffing reduction, Maroni expects a decrease in ESOL student enrollment because ESOL students who live in the Churchill area will transfer to Churchill’s new ESOL program. With fewer students, there are fewer opportunities to offer sheltered classes, which are content-based classes taught with a language background, like ESOL Biology or ESOL US History.

“Data shows that those classes really help our students,” Maroni said. “The question is, what is best for these students? I don’t think that was the question when making this decision. I think the question was where can we save money, without thinking of the long-term impact.”

 

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