59 Northville School Staff To Be Laid Off Tuesday
The teachers may be re-hired after union negotiations come to a close.
Editor's note: A sentence in this story has been changed for clarification. It now reflects that there are two factors that will determine when Northville staff can be called back from the lay off list: 1) knowing how much money the district will get under the governor's budget and 2) the end of contract negotiations in the district. Contract negotiations are currently on-going.
Northville's Board of Education is expected to approve the layoffs of 59 district staff at a special meeting on Tuesday.
"As a result of the projected budget deficit for the 2011-2012 school year, it is necessary to reduce certified staff," according to the Certified Staff Layoff notice issued Friday.
The staff were identified by "seniority and No Child Left Behind (highly qualified status,)" according to the notice.
Layoffs include teachers, some part-time and some full-time.
These layoffs are in addition to 19 staff laid off at the board's meeting last week. Those staff were teachers and paraprofessionals, who assist teachers, at the district's center programs. They were laid off from the district's two center program schools, officials said, because the programs were funded by the county's tax dollars, which have been declining. The center program schools serve students from throughout Wayne County with special needs.
Balancing the district's budget
Superintendent Leonard Rezmierski said in a previous interview that the school district's current financial situation is “the worst any of us has seen in 40 years."
District officials have projected for several months a loss of $791 per student, or $5.8 million in total, under Gov. Rick Snyder's budget.
And because the district must present a balanced budget by June 1, issuing layoffs is a necessary step, said school board president Joan Wadsworth.
"Changes from Lansing or concessions from negotiatons with various union groups could change that," she said.
The teachers could be called back when the school board expects to have a budget in place for the June deadline and contract negotiations have ended, Wadsworth said.
"It is just heartbreaking to contemplate and execute these layoffs," she said. The staff "are wonderful people…it is painful to be in this position."
Teachers group responds
Ann Cook, president of the Northville Education Association, said in an email that to date, about 73 teachers have received layoff notices. Currently, the district is in contract negotiations with various union groups including the NEA's bargaining team.
"I am deeply saddened by this event. This is a crippling blow, both personally and professionally, to all of the Northville Teachers," she wrote. "I would expect that our community and its parents share my concern for 37 students in K-12 classrooms. This is a 48 percent increase in average class size."
Cook, a physical education teacher at Northville High School, added that she had hoped the passage of the district's sinking fund millage—which will be used for district-wide capital improvements—would alleviate the need to lay-off so many of Northville's teachers.
"It is the Association's position that the passage of the Sinking Fund Millage which will provide relief to the District's general operating fund; an anticipated, favorable legislative adjustment to the per pupil allowance combined with teacher retirements should equate to a reduction in the number of teachers having to be laid off," she wrote.
Cook added, "I would like to quote one of my teachers who has stated—'This (layoffs) attacks our successes by reducing the number of people who contribute to the lives of the students each and every day!'"