28 Apr 250 South Bend Teachers Could Lose Their Jobs (IN )

April 28, 2010

By: Mark Peterson
Source: WNDU.com

As many as 260 teachers may lose their jobs to balance the books of the South Bend Community School Corporation.

Over the past two days, that’s how many Reduction in Force (RIF) notices have been sent to teachers.

“That’s a lot in a corporation of 15 hundred (teachers), that’s a big chunk and you know the cuts from Mitch Daniels are really cutting deep here, in South Bend, Indiana, said South Bend ISTA Uniserv Director Heidi Miller.

The paperwork provides legal notice to teachers that their contracts might not be renewed for the next academic year.

In this case, notices went to about 17-percent of all South Bend teachers, at all different levels of seniority. “The deepest I’ve seen so far is a 41 year art teacher that got cut to half time,” said Miller.

Miller says that the RIF notices came down particularly hard on fine arts and physical education programs. “…What we might overall call the special classes have been cut back significantly.”

Most of the notices were issued by the time the school board last night gave final approval to an agreement in which the teacher’s union agreed to do without pay raises.

“The teachers tried to work with us, they went with zero percent and they get slapped in the face as far as I’m concerned,” said board member Bill Sniadecki.

Sniadecki said that the number of RIF notices actually sent out exceeded his expectations by more than two fold, although he feels the board has itself to blame. “Last night’s meeting, it was completely ridiculous , they were still calling it budget cuts, but they were adding two high schools.”

Last night, the board did vote to move Bendix High School students to the Eggleston building, and to establish a High Tech High School at Riley High School.

Sniadecki says that both of those moves will increase costs.

2002 appears to mark the last time the South Bend Community Schools sent out this many Reduction in Force notices. At that time, a total of 314 notices were issued, although the number of people who actually lost their jobs was under 70.

While it has been common practice in the past that a small fraction of the teachers who receive notices actually lose their jobs—Miller isn’t taking anything for granted. “I hope that it won’t be this bad, but we always have to take it on face value and go from there in terms of what’s going to happen with enrollment and whether or not they will bring people back in the fall.”

Miller says that the teacher’s union will hold a meeting for its members on May 3rd at 4 p.m. at Jackson Intermediate School. The session will be used to explain to those who received notices—what their options are.

South Bend School Corporation spokesperson Sue Coney said that 55 of the RIF notices went to teachers who had temporary licenses to teach certain subjects that were about to expire.

Coney said 8 of the notices went to teachers who were being let go due to poor evaluations.

The Penn Harris Madison schools did not issue RIF notices this year, while School City of Mishawaka issued 30 notices.

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