94 teachers at risk for 2021-22 layoff

94+U-High+faculty+are+at+risk+of+being+layed+off+in+two+years+due+to+budgetary+restrictions+from+a+potential+decrease+in+enrollment.

Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons user Crimsonmaroon

94 U-High faculty are at risk of being layed off in two years due to budgetary restrictions from a potential decrease in enrollment.

More than 90 Laboratory Schools teachers have learned that they are at risk of losing employment for the 2021-22 school year if enrollment declines. Because the group is based on seniority, it includes a significant number of recently hired people of color.

Layoffs are not occurring for the 2020-21 school year because contracts have already been offered and signed.

Notices will be delivered this month to 17 non-probationary faculty members — those with three to five years at Lab as of June 2020 — because the Faculty Association’s Collective Bargaining Agreement requires a year of notice for layoffs of non-probationary faculty. 

For faculty members in their first, second or third year of employment, the administration may choose not to renew employment for any reason. According to a letter from the Faculty Association obtained by the Midway, 94 teachers have been hired in the last five years and are at risk for a layoff. 

Interim Director David Magill said layoffs are entirely based on who was hired most recently. 

“It has nothing to do with how great a teacher they are,” Mr. Magill said. “It has everything to do with their seniority.”

Additionally, teachers are not being fired, but laid off, Mr. Magill said, meaning it is not that these teachers should not be teaching at Lab, but that the school cannot afford to maintain employment.

Any layoff is entirely based on the after-effects of the pandemic, the economy, the potential of an enrollment decrease. That would of course be because families can’t afford to go to Lab and there is not enough financial aid to assist.”

“Any layoff is entirely based on the after-effects of the pandemic, the economy, the potential of an enrollment decrease,” Mr. Magill said. “That would of course be because families can’t afford to go to Lab and there is not enough financial aid to assist.”

Faculty Association Vice President Sharon Housinger, a high school science teacher, said while all faculty members who have been at Lab anywhere from one to five years will be receiving a potential layoff notice, it may affect each department and grade level differently, depending on enrollment distribution.

Ms. Housinger also voiced concerns that layoffs will dramatically influence the diversity of the faculty. According to Ms. Housinger, Lab made significant progress in increasing the diversity of the faculty over the last three years, but the potential layoffs put the diversity of the faculty at risk.

“The sad thing is,” Ms. Housinger said, “if they start laying people off, a lot of those people will disproportionately be more likely to be people of color.”

According to Ms. Housinger, people laid off will not necessarily distribute equally across all departments across the schools.

Layoffs cannot be the most recent hires across all of the schools,  Ms. Housinger explained, because, for example, a high school math teacher cannot teach nursery school. As a result, specific layoffs will be different from department to department, and within each department, the seniority rule will apply.

According to Mr. Magill, the administration and the university are doing everything in their power to save jobs. 

We consider this to be more than just a job. It’s a community. It’s a family. Everybody cares about each other and the idea that the university wouldn’t be able to economically fund the community.”

— Sharon Housinger

We are going to do everything possible, the administration and the university, to seek to avoid any layoffs. This is not a fait accompli,” Mr. Magill said. “This is something we want to avoid. We just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

According to Ms. Housinger, even the thought of experiencing such substantial layoffs is upsetting to the FA. 

“We consider this to be more than just a job. It’s a community. It’s a family. Everybody cares about each other and the idea that the university wouldn’t be able to economically fund the community,” Ms. Housinger said. “The fact that they might cut a program or let teachers go is really upsetting.”

 

Letters from Mr. Magill and the Faculty Association are included below.