Sunday LeftoversFebruary 5, 2012
ESEA Waiver PredictionsFebruary 6, 2012
(“LIFO” means “last in, first out,” i.e., when public school districts reduce staff due to declining enrollment they must lay off the teachers with the least seniority first, regardless of classroom effectiveness.)
Q [Star-Ledger]: Under current law, when you are faced with declining enrollment and want to reduce teaching staff, you must release the least senior teachers first. Why is that a problem?
A [Superintendent Cami Anderson]: You’re not able to base that decision on performance. You can’t keep the person based on who is the best fit for the school, and the best results for kids. You have to keep the teachers who are not the best fit.
Q. You’ve given principals the power to reject any teachers they don’t want. So what happens when poorly performing teachers can’t find a home?
A. Under current law, we have to keep that person on the payroll forever if they have tenure. Even if no principal wants them, even if enrollment is declining and there is no position for them, we have to keep them on the payroll.
Q. How much does that cost?
A. Right now, about $8.5 million a year for about 100 teachers in an excess teacher pool.
Q. So if the tenure rules were changed, you could lay off those poor performers and save $8.5 million?
Q. As it stands, when students switch to charter schools, you can’t reduce staff in response — unless you want to get rid of talented young teachers, correct?
A. Correct, but they’re not all young. Some of the untenured teachers are midcareer.
Q. So on the whole, do charter schools create a financial burden for the district?
A. When students leave the Newark Public Schools, whether for charters, private schools or the suburbs, the money affiliated with that student goes with them. The challenge is that we have a certain amount of fixed costs, not just the facilities, but the people, because of the tenure rules we discussed.