Union Claims 'Thousands' of School Layoffs, But Where?
Extrapolations in Broward are derived from old data; state says it's too early to tell
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The Florida Education Association is shopping an unsubstantiated story that "thousands of teachers and support staff" will be laid off at public schools this fall.
FEA President Andy Ford made the claim to Florida News Network Tuesday, but offered no specific numbers to back it up.
The state Department of Education could not corroborate Ford's claim, saying it is too soon to make any calculations. With a majority of school districts not yet open, DOE spokeswoman Deborah Higgins said, "They won't lay off people if there are positions to fill."
Pressed by Sunshine State News to substantiate the union's projection, FEA spokeswoman Jacqui Sisto pointed to Broward County, which she said mailed termination letters to 1,400 teachers.
Per union contract, only first- and second-year teachers -- those not grandfathered in with tenure -- received the notices.
Broward County School District spokeswoman Nadine Drew confirmed that 1,447 instructors received letters, but said those notices were mailed last May.
By the end of the school year, however, the district reported just "117 teachers placed on layoff due to lack of full-time vacancies in their subject areas."
Since then, as happens every year, additional retirements, resignations and other attrition are expected to reduce potential layoffs even further.
At last report, the district said it had "over 150 vacancies in mathematics, science and special education."
Broward, the state's second biggest school district, has approximately 16,000 full-time teaching slots.
Elsewhere, the state's largest district, Miami-Dade, is planning no reductions in instructional staff.
Dozens of smaller districts, including St. Lucie County, are reporting no staff reductions in either their teaching or nonteaching ranks.
Still, the teachers' union insists that big layoffs loom across the state.
"Schools got less money, so there are going to be less people working. There will be layoffs because there's less money," Sisto said.
Contact Kenric Ward at email@example.com or at (772) 801-5341.