New guidance emerged Monday on what school may look like when it reopens in the fall after the coronavirus shutdowns. As school officials try to sort through things like the regulations of class size and cleaning protocols when it comes to reopening their schools, teachers in some communities are now getting laid off.
"It's the wrong move at this time," Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy said. “A massive wave of laying off educators is going to be devastating to public education.”
With several school districts across the commonwealth beginning to issue pink slips or announce a “reduction in force” for dozens, if not hundreds of teachers per district – Najimy is calling on the state and federal government to step up.
“The money exists, it’s up to the legislators to legislate progressive taxes so that we don’t balance the budget on the backs of the public and the backs of our students,” said Najimy.
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“We’re sort of working with a blindfold, we don’t know what that budget will look like,” said Tom Scott, executive director of the Mass. Association of School Superintendents.
Scott says contractually educators who are in their first three years of teaching have to be notified if there’s a chance they’re not going to be brought back by June 15.
And districts have individual deadlines for announcing a “reduction in force” for teachers in their fourth year and beyond.
Scott said, “Everybody is hoping that the decisions that are being made now are not the decisions that ultimately bring us back to school.”
But with uncertainty over how districts will fund mandates for personal protective equipment and reduced student/teacher ratios – cuts to art, music and physical education are being considered.
Scott agrees those are “worst case scenario” decisions.
“We’re going to need more resources, not fewer resources to be able to address the issues that we confront when we come back to school,” said Scott.
Najimy said, “You cannot meet the requirements of a ratio of ten students to every two adults on a shoestring budget.”
State funding for schools – known as Chapter 70 money – is generally not announced until July, as part of the state budget process.