Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

More than 400 layoff notices sent to Gary teachers

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GARY, Ind. (AP) — Layoff notices that have been sent to more than 400 Gary teachers could leave even veteran teachers without classrooms this fall as the city’s school district struggles with a $14 million shortfall this year that’s expected to more than double next year.

Up to a third of the district’s educators could find themselves without jobs this fall as the district tries to save $23 million over the next two years, the Post-Tribune reported.

Gary Teachers Union president Carlos Tolliver said the board and union officials hope to agree on the number of teachers needed for next year by July 1.

Reduction-in-force notices go out each spring to more teachers than will actually be laid off. By late summer, teachers with the most seniority are brought back.

But the sheer number of notices this year, combined with the district’s budget crisis, is prompting even veteran teachers to begin clearing out their classrooms.

Tracey Montgomery, who has taught for 20 years, worries that her experience will count against her if she is laid off and tries to find another teaching job elsewhere.

“I’m just overwhelmed,” Montgomery said. “Who is going to hire a teacher with my level of experience when they can get two starting teachers for the same price?”

Lisa Koskela, who teaches fourth grade at Marquette Elementary School, is one of 18 at the school who received reduction in force notices this spring.

She isn’t confident she’ll return to her classroom in the fall.

“When I got the notice, I started bringing home one bag of stuff each day,” Koskela said. “Now, I’m just down to the big chunks.”

Tolliver said teachers were sent the seniority list so they know where they stand and that the union is working to ensure the final teacher tally is “done right” based on projected enrollment.

Nearly 11,800 students attended school in the Gary Community School Corp. in 2009-2010, according to state Department of Education figures.




Posted 6/13/2011




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