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Two weeks before school, Kansas City teachers get laid off

Thursday, August 12, 2010 | 4:15 p.m. CDT; updated 8:15 p.m. CDT, Thursday, August 12, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City School district has notified 175 teachers this week that they will not have jobs when the school year starts in two weeks.

The late notifications are the latest in a string of troubles the district has had with teacher notifications since it voted in March to close 24 traditional schools and three leased buildings.

The district had hoped to have all teachers notified about their job situation and where they would teach by the end of May. The district's first effort was rescinded because of too many errors, and Superintendent John Covington said outdated software contributed to further delays.

"We had faux pas over the summer," Covington told The Kansas City Star. "We checked it again and checked it a third time to be sure, once and for all" that the teaching assignments were "accurate."

The school district, which starts classes Aug. 30, has reduced its payroll from 3,380 employees to 2,220 for the new school year, through a combination of layoffs, retirements and buyouts.

"The worst thing is to find out with a week left before everything starts,"  said Troy Sawyer, an elementary teacher who is being laid off. "I feel like everyone is going to be substituting.

"My heart and soul was in Kansas City, Missouri," Sawyer said Wednesday. "I wanted to help children, and I feel I have."

Steve Fraley, a non-tenured teacher at Garcia Elementary School, was among about 200 teachers celebrating Wednesday as they finished a summer's work on a new curriculum.

"There were days," Fraley said, "that I sat in there (in the workshops) wondering if I'd get one of the letters ... Some of the people I came in with got letters. It's hard to see the layoffs, but I know Dr. Covington's mission is to improve education for the children of Kansas City."

The district worked with the teachers' union over the weekend to make sure cuts were made according to state law and the union contract. Principals also met to review the final report.

The union is still reviewing the results and helping correct some errors, union President Andrea Flinders said.


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Comments

Carlos Sanchez August 12, 2010 | 6:28 p.m.

How can they lay off these teachers that Obama just passed am emergency funding bill for to help save their jobs but at the same time is cutting supplemental funding to over 41 million citizens on food stamps?

What we have here is a huge failure of government.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 12, 2010 | 10:37 p.m.

What we have here is an over-reliance on government programs, with a bit of union help I reckon.

(Report Comment)

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