EAST COUNTY — When the Manatee County School District cut 186 teaching positions in May as part of a plan to save $20.6 million and meet class-size requirements, Superintendent Rick Mills said most of those employees would have jobs once he accounted for attrition.
With the start of school just a few days away, Mills’ prediction seems accurate.
The district and its teachers union, the Manatee Education Association, confirmed 185 teachers who lost their jobs have found new ones either inside or outside the district.
“I’m sure teachers were frustrated, anxious and scared to lose a job in this economy, but we did not leave them without any hope,” said Diana Greene, the district’s deputy superintendent for instruction. “Now, we’re proud to say many know where they’re going to be.”
The rehiring process followed a “memo of understanding,” an agreement the district set with its teachers union in the spring.
The first such agreement said that once the district considered attrition — the number of staff who retire or leave the district on their own — teachers whose jobs were non-renewed and who carried effective or highly effective ratings would be reappointed to the same school, if a position for which they qualified opened up there.
If two people vied for the same position at the school from which they came, the teacher with the most seniority would be hired first.
Only teachers working on annual contracts did not have their contracts renewed. They had mixed ranges of tenure.
If no position became available from the same school, teachers with effective and highly effective ratings would be put into a pool for jobs at another school with vacancies. The school’s principal would hire one teacher, while the other applicants would go back into another pool at a different school.
Teachers could only be hired for a position for which they were certified to teach.
“It was a very cumbersome process, and it took awhile to get started, but that’s part of it,” said Pat Barber, president of the Manatee Education Association. “A lot of good people took jobs in other districts (while) waiting to learn their status, so we lost a lot of good teachers. I’m just glad so many have jobs.”
Reaching beyond the agreement, the district also made favorable recommendations to teachers seeking work outside Manatee County. The district hopes to bring back more teachers 10 days after school starts, at which time schools learn final enrollment numbers.
“It was a very positive thing to negotiate the memo of understanding with the district,” Barber said. “The people we have brought back are people with high evaluations who the district has invested in, so we hope it will be a positive experience for them to stay here.”
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