Hartford Board Votes To Seek Change In Layoff Rules
March 17, 2010
By a 5-3 vote, with one abstention, the Hartford school board voted Tuesday to authorize the school superintendent to seek corrective action from the state regarding the district's layoff procedure for teachers and administrators, which allows a person targeted for layoff at one school to "bump" a person with less seniority at another school.
Hundreds of parents, teachers and administrators jammed into and spilled out of Tuesday's meeting, in hopes of swaying school board members to see a controversial issue their way.
Superintendent Steven Adamowski wants the state to institute a seniority system that would protect specially trained teachers in the city's themed schools. He has argued that the only way to sustain improvements in achievement and the district's reform efforts is to abolish systemwide seniority.
He said the state Department of Education has the power to do so through accountability statutes associated with federal No Child Left Behind requirements, and many parents who spoke Tuesday agreed.
"It's the most logical model to support reform," said parent Tanzania Cooper.
Union officials counter that Adamowski's effort amounts to another round of union-busting that has defined his administration and worsened morale in a system already devastated by years of budget cuts.
Several teachers pointed out that their contract with the school board was negotiated in good faith and with the expectation that it be honored.
Teacher Joshua Blanchfield asked the school board to vote against the proposed corrective-action order.
"With so much moving in the right direction, we continue to see efforts to undermine union employees," Blanchfield said, adding that as a young, learning teacher he relies heavily on more experienced teachers.
But some saw both sides of the argument and asked for the union and the administration to try to find common ground.
"This is a tug of war between tenured teachers and specialized teachers and the students," said parent Natasha Barrett-Martinez. "I have respect on both sides and would like to see a compromise."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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