Most of 37 teachers laid off from Schenectady school district back at work

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
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— Almost all of the teachers laid off this summer are back at work in the Schenectady City School District.

Thirteen teachers were stunned to get layoff notices just before their tenure-granting ceremony last spring. In total, 37 teachers were laid off, and all of them scrambled to find new jobs in a shrinking job market.

But after the district moved experienced teachers into its new reading specialist positions, and received the typical list of teachers needing maternity or medical leave, it was able to offer jobs to 33 of the laid-off teachers.

Some got a guaranteed job for only a few months: they’re working as long-term substitutes while another teacher is out on leave. But others are back in the classroom with full-year positions.

A few teachers told the district they had already been hired somewhere else. So officials went to the next name on the list. There’s only four laid-off teachers left, and Superintendent Laurence Spring said he hopes to offer them jobs, too.

“Not yet,” he said. “Any openings we know we have, we’ve already got those filled. But we do have openings that come up with some regularity. Every month a few teachers tell us they’re giving birth, or they hurt their back, something like that.”

Filling those spots with laid-off teachers is even more important this year because the district had to say goodbye to experienced instructors.

Many of the laid-off teachers had worked in Schenectady for four years, trained in inner-city education by experienced mentors.

“In elementary, we were reducing 19 sections, so we went deep,” Spring said. “People who thought they were safe were laid off. It was shocking.”

At the tenure celebration in May, teachers described the difficulty of pushing through to the end of the school year after learning that they would be laid off.

“At first I was frustrated. You work so hard for the students,” sixth-grade teacher Chris Adamek said then.

But he said he understood that the district had to increase class sizes to save money. “I’m also a property owner in the city,” he said. “Me being a young homeowner, I don’t know that I could support much more in taxes.”

He and other teachers took the layoff notice as the impetus to look for jobs elsewhere. Some of the tenured teachers had received layoff notices every year that they had worked at the district. Now, they said, it was clear they had to go elsewhere to find a career.

Spring said that when teachers were called this summer, a number of them had already found jobs elsewhere.

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