Friday, April 11, 2014

Don't panic: organize (Round two)

Hearing concerns from parents that layoffs are happening now, even though we don't yet know what the final budget will look like.
Yes, that is true, on both counts!
We've had budgets these last few years that haven't involved layoffs like this, so for those who haven't been through this already:

  •  In order for Human Resources to hold up our end of the contractual agreements about position changes, notices of position cuts and layoffs have to go out now, for those changes to be processed and take place before the end of the year. Openings that will occur due to retirement, due to teacher's not having professional status, due to layoffs, or otherwise, go out on the "bid list" for those within the system that are interested. There are several rounds of this, and it's starting now.
  • This always happens prior to the budget. The budget won't come out until the first week of May; it won't be deliberated until June. That's far too late for decisions about cuts and class sizes and assignments to be made.
  • If changes have to be made over the summer, it's much easier to make them in a positive direction--adding teachers to cut class size, assigning support staff, opening additional sections--than to make cuts over the summer.
  • And finally--and you're going to hear this a lot from me in the coming weeks--NO BUDGET IS FINAL UNTIL IT IS VOTED ON IN ITS ENTIRETY BY THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE. 
So, if you are hearing about cuts at your child's school, if you're concerned about course selection, if you've heard something about staffing levels: don't panic. Don't give up. 
Also, don't think that means that the school administration or the School Committee has given up. We plan for the worst; we hope and work for the best.
If you now have specifics about your school, NOW is the time to make those calls and emails, to have those conversations, about what a school budget that isn't appropriately funded looks like for your school. 
The School Committee doesn't determine our bottom line; the Worcester City Council and City Manager do.

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