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You Decide: Should the School Committee Issue Layoff Notices

The committee is poised to issue 700 layoff notices as the education department faces budget shortfalls.


The Woonsocket School Committee is scheduled to hold a special meeting today at 5:30 p.m. to address one issue: a proposal to issue more than 700 layoff notices to school employees, including teachers, teacher's aides and custodians.

The School Committee insists it is only taking the necessary steps to prevent a repeat of last year's $2.7 million budget deficit. The Woonsocket Teachers Guild sees a darker intent, calling “the plan to terminate all teachers and paraprofessionals" an "extreme, arbitrary and irresponsible step that will only foster lower morale, distrust and uncertainty,” according to union head Jeffrey Partington.

However, there is no plan to lay off anyone at this afternoon's meeting. Today's action — whatever the vote — will not result in any terminations. It is a necessary step to satisfy state law in case budget deficits force the Woonsocket Education Department to issue any layoffs in the near future. State law requires the school department to notify by March 1 any union employees who may lose their jobs in the coming year.

So what do you think? Should the School Committee issue more than 700 layoff notices to school employees?

Imzadi February 22, 2012 at 05:08 PM
If the committee is going to do lay-offs, then they should determine who needs to be laid off and only do those people. Issuing lay offs for the entire district shows sloppiness on their part.
Ricky February 22, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Laying off over 700 employees is wrong. Completely. People need these jobs, depend on them, and have families to support. Maybe if the administration and big whigs at McFee took a paycut down from 6 figures, things would be a bit easier. Woonsocket better get it together, otherwise you'll see the drop out rate go up. That's a promise. You cut the teachers that not only depend on the job, but also are depended upon by students, you're damaging an important system. The clerical, paraprofessional, and custodial positions are helping the entire school system keep together as well. 6 figure salaries are ridiculous for administrators who do not even do any work in reality.
Jeff Hardy February 22, 2012 at 06:46 PM
To answer the survey’s question, yes the school committee should move forward and send the notices. This is a state law. Maybe we should fight to change the law? I know this isn’t the best approach to this matter. I have children in the school system and this goes on every year. The children get upset when they hear that there favorite teacher might not be teaching next year. Let’s push them to get us the numbers. Should this process take this long?
Dawn Mackenzie February 22, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Are you kidding me? The teachers are the backbone of our school department. Schools are only as strong as the community which supports it and it's teachers. The main job of the Woonsocket Education Department is to educate the children. How is this going to be accomplised if there are no teachers? This isn't like past years. DON'T let anyone tell you any different.
Erin B. February 22, 2012 at 09:09 PM
I really don't know what is so difficult to understand about this: "However, there is no plan to lay off anyone at this afternoon's meeting. Today's action — whatever the vote — will not result in any terminations." This is a necessary move to ensure that the WED is on good legal ground in case any terminations become necessary. Should a performance evaluation have been done to determine the most likely candidates for layoff? Perhaps. If you can find the money for the WED to have done that, rather than the comparatively cheap catch-all that we're seeing here, then I can understand the grudge as more than a knee-jerk reaction to the word "layoff." On the flip-side, http://www.providencepolice.com/mayor/providence-teacher-dismissals-vs-teacher-layoffs shows the precedent set last year by Providence when faced with a similar situation. Instead of exposing themselves to the liability that comes with layoffs (versus dismissals), Providence opted to issue dismissal notices. These are warnings of "you MIGHT not have a job next fall" rather than "you WON'T have a job next fall." According to their figures, dismissal notices actually served the purpose that the WED seems to be aiming at where layoff notices would have likely resulted in more trouble. If the WED has similar policies in place, maybe that's the course of action we should be looking at. This is in no way a statement that we should fire all/any teachers without due diligence; this is a financial observation only.
Jack February 22, 2012 at 11:52 PM
You are paying these administrators in the 6 figure range and they can't use common sense.....the layoff notices are needed for those jobs where the possibility of no funding or grants to continue them are needed but not for the entire department except themselves. Granted that all the funds are not fully known but I would bet they have a good idea which ones are on the fence and in those cases send a notice. These are the same administrators that will suspend a pre-schooler for bringing a plastic knife to school to butter her bread because of zero tolerance and we give them big money for what?????? When was common sense outlawed from our decision making policies.
Joe B February 23, 2012 at 12:54 AM
700 layoffs ...Does anyone really believe this is anything but a power play by the school commitee who obviously has no clue what they are doing ? How is sending out 700 envelopes with postage stuffed by people getting paid to do it saving any money ? And lets not forget no less than 650 of them are going to get a 2nd letter a couple months from now to get called back to work . Seems a bit wasteful of resources and money when we all know schools have to be open .....Oh and with teachers .. Another fine job by city leaders !!
Patrick Luce (Editor) February 23, 2012 at 02:39 AM
There is no indication there are actually going to be any layoffs. The layoff notices are merely to satisfy a state law to inform teachers by March 1 that they could be laid off in the next year.
Ricky February 23, 2012 at 03:27 AM
To reammend my previous statement, I understand this isn't an actual lay off. There's still the effect of it though. Put it in this perspective; you're a first year teacher. Fresh out of college. Taking up your DREAM job. You have no tenure and nothing tying you to the school system yet. You're laid off. You wait for the notice of a call back, but you don't get one. Another teacher, your friend, had to take your job because it was all that was available. Now you have lost your dream job. I think most people's dreams would be crushed. Even if the school committee isn't laying anyone off, and it's just a tentative notice until the fiscal matter is resolved or organized, its still going to crush dreams and hopes. I can attest to that. I want to be a teacher when I graduate high school and college. I'm finding it harder and harder each day to hold on to a dream that was once not difficult to achieve and hold onto. I understand it is state law, but it should be made a little clearer to not only the public, but the staff as well. I didn't understand it fully until it was explained on here to me. I believe wholeheartedly that things can improve. This, however, is not the right path. I know I would never want to have to wonder everyday if I'm going to have a job tomorrow. At least give the staff more clear reasoning than just "there will be no official layoffs", answering very little.
Sandy Smith February 23, 2012 at 01:49 PM
I hope the school commitee members also received layoff notices!!!!!!!!! Sandy
John Galt February 23, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Patrick, I don't believe that you are correct. If you receive a notice that states that you are terminated as of a specific date, but that there is an option for a future recall, how exactly does that somehow translate into not being a layoff? The letter didn't state you MAY be laid off...
Another Concerned Taxpayer February 26, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Apparently you don't understand this topic. If there had been more responsible spending, and accountability for said spending, this would not need to happen. And as for teacher evaluations? A brief glance at teacher contracts would show these layoffs should have been issued based on seniority. However THEY decided to issue notices to all because THEY don't know how much THEY spent or how much THEY are going to spend. I say to the teachers, keep up your outstanding teaching, and keep fighting for your careers and what's owed to you.
liz February 26, 2012 at 03:15 PM
I think Sandy S. nailed it on the head! OUR poor teachers keep taking the hit for the mistakes that others made. How does this affect them emotionally? Now we expect them to go back into the classroom with this looming over their heads, put on a happy face and work hard? Now will really suffer here? My guess, the kids.
David T February 26, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Necessary Moves: The School Committee and Vanna Donayan, PhD made the decision to send out notices to union positions in the name of “flexibility” and keeping all options open to them for the next budget. I get it; there is a March 1 deadline. It was necessary. Everyone now agrees this was a desperate move for desperate times, whether you like the decision or not. Well, it’s also time to look ALL positions; I’m talking about the entire administration, top-down, the non-union positions. They have the biggest paychecks. How, in these times of financial crisis did the administrators get a pass??? No personal discomfort or yearly lay off notices for them! This group recently asked for a raise! Look it up for your selves in the SC Minutes. And there is nothing to stop the School Committee from laying off or firing anyone in the administration right now or at any time. Why haven’t they done this? There’s a deficit now. Why aren’t we seeing salary reductions for the administration or health benefit reductions??? The sending out of notices to every teacher is drastic. Most if not all will NEED to return in September. But, the point is, the School Committee is quite capable of taking drastic measures as we witnessed last week. Well it’s time to continue taking drastic measures and make cuts everywhere. IT’S NECESSARY!!! They can always hire them back in September.
Upset Citizen February 26, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Am I the only tax payer who is tired of SC members lying to them, and not representing the very people that elected them? Vimala... what experience do you even have in public education? All you have shown that you are good at is lying to people, and bullying hard working teachers.
sam brown February 29, 2012 at 07:52 PM
lay them all off. they don't do their jobs anyway

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