DPS board delays layoffs until summer

Dozens of Dayton Public Schools employees will stay in the jobs they’ve had all fall after the school board Tuesday night unanimously delayed any decision on further layoffs until the end of the school year.

“We have to stay focused on improving student achievement,” Superintendent Rhonda Corr said. “That’s the most important thing we do. … And I fear that the timing for the (reduction in force) would be more appropriate after school closes this year.”

Asked what DPS would do between now and June, school board President Adil Baguirov said the goal should be to grow the district, because if enrollment increases, there won’t be a need for staff cuts.

“We want to make sure that we, at the very least, try to avoid any further reductions in school enrollment,” Baguirov said, referring to the 577-student dip that triggered the staff cuts. “That is the biggest issue. The less students we have, the less employees we can afford to have. … We want to grow that student body.”

The school board had been scheduled to vote on 42 personnel moves involving teachers and instructional aides, mental health technicians, plus clerical, building trades and operations employees. The agenda showed 21 people listed for layoff, 12 slated to be reduced to substitute roles, and nine changing assignments, although more than a dozen others were also slated to switch schools.

Those employees will now stay put. But there will be no reversal for the 19 administrative employees who were laid off last month or for the 27 teachers who switched assignments.

More than two dozen parents, union leaders and employees addressed the board after the decision, many thanking John McManus and other board members for doing their due diligence and agreeing to the delay. But they also urged the board to look deeper into the roles those at-risk staffers play.

Jim Tackett a union representative who works with the paraprofessional group, said some of the proposed cuts “don’t make sense,” arguing that the classroom aides offer 1-on-1 work with students that directly affects student achievement.

DPS parent Lela Klein encouraged the board to think about the importance of classroom chemistry and how frequent changes can disrupt it. But she also talked about the need for better communication between district leadership and the community.

“I’m so grateful that you heard our voices,” Klein said. “To the extent that the community and parents can be in the loop and have our questions answered, we’ll feel much more comfortable going forward. … And to all the parents out there, let’s just stay involved.”

Corr said the board asked her to have a plan in place to react to the enrollment drop by November, so she did so. She said the initial recommendation, while unpopular, was “both transparent and fiscally responsible.” There was some rumbling in the audience at that statement, and community leader Darryl Fairchild later told Corr he disagreed.

Corr said Tuesday’s change of direction came after “a great deal of reflection and listening to our school staff, parents and community.” She said DPS must set high expectations and make sure it is preparing students for long-term success, asking the community to be part of that goal.

“I believe that the current timing would be a disruption to our schools,” Corr said. “I think this will also give us time for me and the members of the board and my team to get out and listen to our parents, our schools, our students, our teachers, our paraprofessionals, to make sure that we do have the right plan going forward. We have a solid plan, but we need to also be able to communicate.”

There was a mix of conflict and healing between the public and the school board. One parent argued loudly that any board member without children in the district should resign, and activist David Esrati criticized the district for a list of “whoops moments.” But union rep Steve Keeney lauded DPS human resources staff for their respectful approach, and several speakers thanked board members for visiting schools to get a better sense of everyday concerns.

Jocelyn Rhynard, who helps lead a group of concerned parents, presented five concerns — conflicting financial figures from the district, a need to understand the reasons for the enrollment drop, “grave concerns” about replacing Title 1 paraprofessionals during the school year, poor communication between the board and the public, and a call for publicity about great assets of DPS, such as the Challenger Center.

“I thank this board for this decision,” said Phillip Raimey, who praised paraprofessional Emily Nelson for helping his daughter with reading at Charity Earley school. “We have six to seven months now to get this right. Nothing worth doing is going to be easy.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Dayton traffic from the WHIO traffic center
Dayton traffic from the WHIO traffic center

Traffic issues can be reported by calling our newsroom at 937-259-2237 or tweeting @WHIOTraffic . Traffic conditions are updated every six minutes on AM 1290 and News 95.7 FM. No incidents to report North Findlay is shut down in the 400 block in Dayton after a crash around 12:50 a.m. A car crashed into a pole after the driver...
Ricky Skaggs to play Miamisburg bicentennial this spring
Ricky Skaggs to play Miamisburg bicentennial this spring

Multiple Grammy Award-winner Ricky Skaggs will perform as part of Miamisburg's bicentennial celebration in June. Kettering Health Network-Sycamore on Tuesday night announced Skaggs' concert will be June 20, organizers said.  The performance will be the centerpiece of a weeklong celebration of Miamisburg's 200th birthday, according to the bicentennial...
Ruling: Nursing home resident can’t be banished to homeless shelter

One of the duties of a long-term care Ombudsman is to help residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities when they are evicted (or discharged) from their home. The Ohio law specifically states the Ombudsman is available to assist residents who are being discharged to help fight the discharge and/or make certain residents are transferred...
Interior designers won’t be decorating with these trends in 2018
Interior designers won’t be decorating with these trends in 2018

A new year is not only a chance to reflect on our accomplishments, but also an opportunity to look forward and set new goals for our health, career, relationships and home, too. While we don’t subscribe to the “new year, new you” tropes, we do believe in the power of intention setting. By clearly articulating your thoughts and desires...
Naval architect designs his own otherworldly lunar lander
Naval architect designs his own otherworldly lunar lander

BEVERLY, Wash. — Houston, we have a project. Technically, it is not a starship, but it certainly has proved quite the enterprise. Our DIY commander, Kurt Hughes, has systematically designed and built his very own livable, lovable lunar lander, securely perched on an acre of peaceful Central Washington terrain. It is out-of-this-world spectacular...
More Stories