Local: Education

Preschool, special-ed teachers among 333 cut employees

Local,DC,Education,Lisa Gartner

About 133 teachers and librarians are expected to lose their jobs this summer as DC Public Schools cuts 333 positions, atop the 1,184 jobs cut in the previous three school years.

A spokeswoman for Chancellor Kaya Henderson declined to say which positions and schools were most affected by the annual "excessing," which is the result of shrinking budgets, changes to academic programs, or the closing or restructuring of schools.

But Nathan Saunders, president of the Washington Teachers' Union, told The Washington Examiner that a surprising number of special-education teachers and preschool instructors were hit.

The school system expects that 60 percent of excessed employees will find new jobs within the school system, due to uneven needs at each campus.

"It's never easy to hear that you will not be able to continue in your current position for next school year," Henderson said. "But the excessing process is essential as it helps us ensure that all of our staff are located where they are needed for the coming school year."

Excessed employees who can't find new placements, but have solid ratings on evaluations, can take a $25,000 buyout or enjoy a "grace year" during which they will be placed at a DCPS school. Otherwise, those without new placements will be terminated in August.

Last spring, 384 positions were excessed, along with 373 in 2010 and 427 in 2009.

Saunders said "a fair number" of special-education teaching jobs are being cut despite the District's efforts to overhaul its lawsuit-embroiled special-needs system and Mayor Vincent Gray's recent announcement that hundreds of special-education students are returning from private schools to DCPS. These positions are different from special-education coordinators, jobs DCPS says it will eliminate so that school psychologists can assume their duties.

Saunders said some preschool and prekindergarten teaching jobs are also getting the ax, at a time when applications are up nearly 10 percent.

"Why are you excessing those positions when it's a growth area?" Saunders said. "I frankly don't get the impression folks really thought comprehensively about this."

Henderson spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz declined to confirm specific cuts, saying they were personnel matters.

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