BY KATHLEEN McGRORY
Friday, May 16, 2008
Miami-Dade school officials Thursday unveiled details of a proposal to eliminate more than 500 positions before the next school year.
The reduction in force -- the school system´s first -- would save the district about $33 million. The School Board will vote on the proposal at its next meeting on Wednesday.
If approved, the eliminated positions would include 235 transportation workers and 28 assistant principals, district officials said.
The remainder of the positions would come from the district´s central offices. They include:
· Seventy-nine clerical workers, community specialists and aides.
· Seventy managers.
· Sixty-eight teachers on special assignment.
· Twenty-five technical workers.
· Twelve police positions.
The School Board is laboring to cut $284 million from the district´s budget. Last month, it eliminated 154 positions after voting to reorganize the district´s regional administration.
As for the new measure, Carolyn Spaht, Superintendent Rudy Crew´s chief of staff, said the district had not yet identified which individuals would be affected. Each union has its own rules for how seniority factors into a reduction in force, she said.
Of the assistant principals, 12 would come from the School Improvement Zone, Crew´s intensive-care program for failing schools, which is to be downsized next year. The others would come from community schools.
Spaht said the school system would work to place all affected individuals into vacant positions within the school system. If that was not possible, she said, “we have a separation plan for each of them, and we´ll be working with other agencies to find them jobs within the county,” she said.
School Board member Evelyn Greer noted that the process would displace recent college graduates.
“We´ll be hiring fewer new teachers into the system because these people will be trickling down,” she said.
After the meeting, board member Solomon Stinson said he supported the reduction in force: “Nobody wants to vote for a reduction in force; it´s emotionally draining. But we have to balance this budget. It would be a violation of law not to.”
But board member Marta Pérez said she would not support the measure.
“How can an executive board be asked to approve something so nebulous$” Pérez asked. “We don´t even know who would be let go.”
Pérez also said she would sooner cut central-office programs like the district´s marketing department.
Other members of the board had yet to make up their minds.
Board Vice Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman said the decision was among the most difficult she has ever faced. She was still undecided.
“On one hand, we have to balance the budget,” she said. “But this was no surprise. If we had been more proactive, we wouldn´t be in this position. We should have started working on this earlier.”
© 2008 Miami Herald Media Company