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DPS send 77 notices, but number of layoffs unknown

Some will switch to other jobs; district won’t say how many central office staff will be cut

At least 77 Dayton Public Schools employees have been notified they could be laid off, but some will transfer to other jobs, and the process will play out at least until a school board vote on Nov. 17.

The majority of the 77 people notified work in classrooms, according to union officials, as layoff notices went to 26 teachers and 35 classroom aides. Last week, DPS Superintendent Rhonda Corr said she would “keep cuts as far away from the classroom as possible,” with central office taking the biggest hit

The school district has not responded to three days of requests from this newspaper for the full list of employee layoff notices sent out, including central office spots, saying only that it will provide that information “early next week.”

But students and parents are already learning of some of the moves, because teacher transfers to avoid layoffs begin next week, according to teachers union president David Romick.

Janine Jenista, whose son attends Horace Mann school, was upset to learn that her son’s fourth-grade teacher will be moved Monday, in the middle of the quarter.

“Wesley’s a very active boy and he loves his teacher; she challenges him,” Jenista said. “I was just devastated for him. The district is kind of shooting themselves in the foot.”

District spokeswoman Jill Moberley on Friday repeated that the focus is to “concentrate the majority of our reductions in central office.”

“This is a difficult process for our district and for our parents,” Moberley said. “We do not expect this process will be finalized before the November 17 board meeting.”

District officials have said the cuts are due to a drop in enrollment, and Corr on Friday called on each school to work to reverse that trend.

“If every school would recruit at least 10 or 15 students, we would not be making teacher cuts,” she said.

Romick said contract procedures mean not all 26 Dayton Education Association members notified actually will be laid off. He said the layoffs are targeted at schools that lost enrollment, and targeted teachers have the right to apply for transfers.

Romick said as of Friday, school-to-school transfers had cut the number of teachers possibly headed for layoff to 18. But there are still some open teaching positions in the district, currently covered by substitutes, and Romick said teachers who have the right certification for those positions may be able to switch rather than be laid off. Those moves will come next week.

Romick again took issue with school board president Adil Baguirov’s claim that the moves would not impact academics, saying the midyear switches are “extremely difficult and disruptive” to teachers and students.

Jim Tackett, who represents members of the OAPSE union in Dayton schools, said 35 paraprofessionals — mostly reading aides paid with federal funds — were among those receiving layoff notices. Many of those aides met with DPS human resources officials Friday, and those with enough seniority had to decide immediately whether to transfer to become bus aides or aides in classrooms for emotionally disturbed students. Others will be laid off.

“It sounds like the brunt of the hits were classroom paraprofessionals who had the most impact on students outside the teachers themselves,” Tackett said.

One of those aides shared her layoff letter with this newspaper. The notice signed by Corr says, “I will be recommending that your employment contract be suspended as part of a reduction in force … effective on November 18.” That’s the day after the next school board business meeting.

The letter says the decision is based on financial needs due to declining enrollment “and is not in any way a reflection on the quality of your service.”

Tackett also said eight clerical employees and two mental health technicians got layoff notices. Dale Herzog of the Building Trades union said six of his members got layoff notices from DPS, and he said there are plans to close the glazier and sheet metal shops, which handle things like replacing windows and replacing thousands of lockers.

Herzog said if the district tries to outsource that work while the current contract is in force, it could lead to an unfair labor practice complaint.

In addition to the school board’s monthly business meeting on Nov. 17, there is a board review session scheduled for 5 p.m. Nov. 8, Election Day. No agenda has been posted for either meeting.

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