Hartford School Superintendent Wants To Safeguard Specially Trained Teachers
March 08, 2010
In an attempt to safeguard specially trained teachers in the city's "themed" schools, Superintendent Steven Adamowski is seeking to have the state Board of Education intervene in the collective bargaining agreement with city teachers and administrators.
If the city's board of education approves Adamowski's request at a special meeting tonight, he will ask the state board to change seniority rules in the teachers' and administrators' contracts.The change would essentially put an end to city teachers and administrators' ability to avoid being laid off by "bumping" less-experienced teachers and administrators at other schools. The proposal would limit such "bumping" privileges to individual schools, as opposed to the current system, which allows bumping systemwide.
Under the revised system that Adamowski is seeking, a teacher or administrator selected for a layoff could only bump someone with less experience in the school where they worked. The idea is to prevent "themed" schools from losing large numbers of specially trained but less-experienced teachers.
The move would also help the city sustain schools and specialized staffs with distinctive programming, such as the Global Communications Academy, even as the school system continues to suffer job reductions, Adamowski said Monday.
Last year the district laid off 250 employees and it expects to lay off another 180 at the end of this school year.
"You want to maintain the majority of the staff in those schools," said Adamowski, who wants to model Hartford's seniority system after the Capitol Region Education Council's program-based system.
Andrea Johnson, president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, said Monday that she was outraged by Adamowski's plan, which she said shows the anti-union pattern that has punctuated his four years in the city.
"Are union members going to put up with this? Of course not," Johnson said, adding that as far as she knew, the state Board of Education has not stepped in before to make changes in a local collective bargaining agreement.
Tom Murphy, a spokesman for the state Board of Education, said the state does have the power under statewide accountability statutes associated with the federal No Child Left Behind requirements.
Murphy said the power is available in Hartford because the city is one of 15 school systems in the state that have been deemed in need of improvement. As a result, he said, the state board has the authority to override aspects of the contract to allow for school and districtwide improvements.
"But that doesn't mean they will agree and intervene," he said. "They would approach this very carefully."
Jim Starr, executive director of Achieve Hartford!, an organization committed to supporting Hartford's reform efforts, agreed that what Adamowski is asking for is unusual in terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
"But given Hartford's extreme situation, any option that could further improve student outcomes should at least be considered," he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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