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Annual Geneva Teacher Firing Is Routine But Also Scary

In a year when budgets are tight and teachers union negotiations are in full swing, the routine exercise of "firing" teachers gets a little more tense.

In most years, the firing of all first- through third-year probationary teachers and support staff is a traditional rite of spring that's no more significant than a rubber stamp.

The teachers are fired, then they're all re-hired later.

The tactic makes sense and gives the School District the most flexibility in dealing with the exigencies of timing and budget cycles. 

But in a year in which teacher contracts are being negotiated, it has a little more meaning. At the very least, it serves as a reminder that staff cuts can happen. And the hard truth is, due to tenure and other factors written into contracts, that the last teachers on board and the support staffers are the most at risk of losing their jobs.

In an April 18 phone interview, School Board President Mark Grosso declined to even select an adjective to describe the mood of contract negotiations with the Geneva teachers union.

"I can’t really comment," he said, but he added that "both sides are working very hard and diligently."

On April 9, the School Board OK'd a resolution authorizing notice of non-renewal to first-, second-, and third-year probationary teachers, other than those completing their last year of probation.

There were 22 full-time staffers' names on the list.

"Taking this action now protects the district from employing individuals whose services may not be required or who will not hold the proper Illinois teaching certification next year," the School District document said. "It also provides greater flexibility in creating a staffing plan that is responsive to changes in student enrollment and / or course selection patterns.

"Later in the school year, when staffing requirements for the coming year are fully identified, the district may be able to either re-employ dismissed staff members or employ new staff members who can better meet the district’s staffing needs."

On Monday (April 23), the School Board voted unanimously to approve a list of support staff not to be re-employed effective at the close of the 2011-12 school term.

Again, those folks have a good chance of being re-hired at a later date.

There were 27 names on the list. The names are listed on the meeting packet agenda in the BoardBook on the District 304 website.

 

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