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14 percent of teachers at risk
Schools send out 99 excise notices, preparing for worst
Alyson Goodman
99 layoff notices went out to Baldwin teachers — though some may be rehired.

The Baldwin school district issued layoff notices to 99 of its teachers at the beginning of the month. The news was met with gasps from most associated with the district, but according to both the Baldwin Teachers Association and the district, the situation, while far from rosy, may not be as bleak as it first appears.

The number seems enormous given that the district employs about 700 teachers. But the layoff of approximately 14 percent of the teaching staff represents what both sides of the situation have called a worst-case scenario. The teachers who received notices on March 1 will be let go as a block only if Baldwin residents vote down two drafts of the Board of Education’s spending plan and the district is forced to adopt a contingency budget— which would contain no increases. According to spokeswoman Cristina Schmohl, that has not happened in at least 20 years.

The budget that will be put to a vote on May 21 contains an increase of just over $2 million, which the district believes will allow it to limit cuts to between 15 and 20 positions — still not a number officials are comfortable with, but preferable to 99.

So why were so many notices sent out? It was a compromise between the district and the union. Christopher L. Greer, the first-year president of the BTA, explained that the association was not happy with the way

layoffs were handled last year. “Last year there were two waves of layoffs,” Greer said, speaking during a break between classes. “One was, I believe, in April. People who didn’t get excising letters breathed a sign of relief. Then the district found out in late June that they needed to lay off more teachers.”

In all, the district severed ties with two groups of 13 teachers each, but Greer characterized the blow to the second group as

particularly punishing. A teacher who finds out in June that he or she won’t be employed the following year, he explained, has very few options. “It’s a tough market for teachers,” Greer said. “If you find out [that you have been let go] over the summer, it’s almost impossible to find another job.”


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Kudos to the BTA for fighting the good fight. That said, getting two additional months to look for work isn't much of a blessing--with just about every district in the area and, indeed, across the country, making cuts (though few of this magnitude), the chances of finding a job elsewhere for many of those 'excessed' are slim, indeed. For more than a few dedicated teachers, this will be a career-ender, no matter which budget gets passed. At the same time, the taxpayers of Baldwin are being asked to carry a heavier tax burden each year--with education cuts often still the end result. Something broader is amiss here, and some of the blame undoubtedly goes to the Cuomo administration and its horrific statewide cuts to education, and perhaps poor spending decisions at the local level in past years. Whatever the case, up to 99 teachers, and their families, will be left facing potentially long-term unemployment. Serious consideration needs to be given to larger-scale reforms in this district and others, including possibly slashing what is a very top-heavy administrative salaries. Six-figure salaries are all too common in Long Island education, particularly at the administrative level. Rather than spending that money on cutting those who toil in the trenches day after day, how about targeting the excessive salaries of those who make it their business to micromanage these same educators?

Thursday, March 14, 2013 | Report this

dcehlk - I couldn't have said it better myself. The current administration has a lot of gall. These 99 pink slips do nothing more than cynically pass the onus of these layoffs to the over-stretched taxpayer. There has to be a better solution, and it shows a deplorable lack of imagination that school administrators keep gouging the class room to preserve fat back offices and avoid the inevitable necessity of consolidating services.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 | Report this
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