As first reported on The Washington Teacher blog on September 14 , it is official that a reduction in force will be carried out by the Rhee administration . As I write this entry, staffers from our DCPS central office are being let go. Tomorrow a letter will go home with DC Public School students from Chancellor Michelle Rhee alerting parents of equalization efforts to adjust school budgets. This is a nice way of saying that DC teachers will be laid off in the process. Although Rhee reports that nearly 45,000 students are currently enrolled- many believe these numbers are over inflated. I must say I have to agree that it is unlikely that thousands of students enrolled since the beginning of this school year. One has to wonder if DCPS currently enrolls that many students, why would a reduction in force even be considered ? Why did Chancellor Rhee hire over 900 new teachers for school year 2009-10 while many other jurisdictions were reducing the numbers of new teacher hires. Can someone please tell me why Rhee's staff makes 6 figure salaries of $200,000 given huge budget deficits ?
I can only imagine that Rhee has some tricks up her sleeve. Somehow I think that these new teacher hires won't be the first to be let go and this reduction in force will disproportionately impact veteran teachers of color. I sure hope that I am wrong.
Having been RIF'd before and experienced first hand a vindictive principal who committed fraud and gave me zero points simply because I was outspoken leaves me with an uneasy feeling about having this RIF handled by our current administration. I would even be more comfortable if this process was handled independently by someone outside our school system.
I think while we watch how this all plays out as educators, parents and community members we must insist that it is a transparent process and that teachers and related school personnel due process rights are adhered to in keeping with the teachers' union contract which is still in effect and the District of Columbia Municipal regulations; Title 5.
Over the last two years as Rhee has fired hundreds of DC teachers with little to no protest from the Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker. Many teachers I know have said 'Thank God' it wasn't me. This time around many are praying: "Dear God don't let it happen to me pleeeez ." Here's a copy of the letter from Chancellor Rhee in its entirety:
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Office of the Chancellor
September 15, 2009
Dear DCPS Parent or Guardian:
Every school year, DCPS engages in an equalization process. Through this process, DCPS adjusts school budgets to align staffing and other resources to actual student enrollment. Equalization adjusts school budgets both upward and downward, in accordance with actual student enrollment. While nearly 45,000 students are enrolled across the DCPS system, equalization allows us to adjust resources based upon which individual school the students actually attend.
In addition to this regular budgetary modification, DCPS is facing a budget shortfall for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 due to DC Council budget reductions over the summer. While the central office will absorb these required cuts to the maximum extent possible, a reduction of this magnitude will directly impact schools.
Over the past two years, as part of our continuing efforts to right-size the school district, DCPS has pushed as much funding as possible out to school budgets. Because the single greatest expenditure in DCPS is now school-based personnel, it is impossible for the district to enact a reduction of the size required for FY 2010, without reducing school-based positions.
As a consequence, many of our schools will be losing positions as of September 30, 2009. These funding adjustments will be consistent with current enrollment at each individual school. We will utilize a Reduction in Force (RIF), which will allow principals to consider several factors, including the needs of the school and the performance of staff, to determine which positions will be eliminated and which positions will be retained.
Our students are our priority. As such, we remain committed to minimizing the impact that any reductions will have on the quality of the academic program at your student's school. No staffing reduction is taken lightly, but every school reduction will be made in the best interest of kids. There will be no disruption to major programs or offerings, and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure a smooth transition for all of our students and schools.
Michelle A. Rhee Chancellor,
825 North Capitol Street NE
Washington. DC 20002
Posted by The Washington Teacher