The question isn’t whether there will be teacher in Clay County laid off next year, it’s whether hundreds of others were improperly notified.
“To worry this many people is just uncalled for,” says Clay County Education Association President Steve Richards.
700 teachers and school staff have been sent one of two letters regarding their employment next year. The first indicates the teacher will have a contract next year as long as the School Board approves. The second reads “In the event the district has open positions for which you are eligible to apply, you will need to complete the online Transfer Profile Application located on our district website.”
“We don’t know why one letter got to one person and one letter to another,” Richards says.
He has a number of concerns regarding the letter, but chief among them is the Superintendent’s insistence that this is proper procedure.
“If you’re an annual contract teacher, you’ll get a notice reminding you that you’re an annual contract person,” says Clay County Superintendent Charlie Van Zant, Jr.
Van Zant says per negotiations with the union a few years back, all annual contract teachers are supposed to receive notice, and that’s who the 700 letters were directed to.
“The bottom line is, the annual contract teachers that the principal is recommending be hired back, based on the allocations that the board authorizes will be hired back,” he says.
When I asked him directly whether the letters sent this year are different, he didn’t comment directly, other than to offer to show “every letter we have”, which I have requested.
I’ve also requested a breakdown of how many of each letter was sent out, but have not yet received a response.
Richards says he was expecting 70 teachers would be cut because of a decline in enrollment, and sees this move instead as a “wholesale firing of all these wonderful teachers.” He later acknowledged that many of these would not, in fact, be terminations- but it is still unclear just how many it will work out to be.