Dallas school district delays layoffs

October 15, 2008 7:52:39 AM PDT
A state lawmaker has asked Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott to oversee financially troubled Dallas school district's budgeting and audit process as it delayed by one day plans to layoff 460 teachers due to a $84 million shortfall this fiscal year. "We've had major problems with DISD for a long time, and it just doesn't seem to be getting any better. It's time (for Scott) to start flexing some muscle," state Rep. Tony Goolsby said in Tuesday's online edition of The Dallas Morning News.

The Dallas Independent School District delayed Wednesday's scheduled layoff of hundreds of teachers after a stormy meeting Tuesday morning with principals, who questioned who would be fired. District officials said the teacher layoffs are now scheduled Thursday, but exactly how many teachers will receive pink slips remains unclear.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said in a statement the district needs another day to review its plan.

"I want to make certain that we give ourselves time to resolve the issues that (principals) have raised," the statement said. "We are committed to paying close attention to our standards of service at each campus."

Originally 560 teachers were to be laid off, but about 215 teachers left the district last week under an employee buyout program that let workers volunteer for the layoff, the newspaper reported.

Teacher representatives were incredulous when informed of the delay.

"This is so messed up," Dale Kaiser, president of the teacher's group NEA-Dallas, said.

District officials have told teacher groups that an additional 350 teachers will be moved into new jobs by the end of the week, taking over the duties of those who are to be fired. Some of the principals' complaints Tuesday centered on the transferred teachers, what they are certified to teach and how they can be expected to pack up and move their entire classrooms in one day.

The district has already terminated 213 non-contract workers since Sept. 29 and eliminated another 197 vacant positions. District leaders have said they expect the total number of cuts to hit 1,100, including layoffs and the elimination of vacant positions.

Meanwhile, a committee of trustees is to meet in closed session Thursday to give Hinojosa a previously unscheduled job review but the district's board president Jack Lowe said the superintendent will not be fired.

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