- The Washington Times - Monday, May 9, 2005

A lack of job stability is prompting some D.C. educators to consider seeking employment in other jurisdictions, the new president of the Washington Teachers’ Union said.

“They say, ‘Listen, you don’t know from one year to the next whether you’re going to have a job here,’ ” union President George Parker told The Washington Times last week.

For the second year in a row, the more-than-4,000-member union is facing the prospect of deep job cuts because of an unexpected shortfall in the school system’s budget.

The D.C. school system is considering cutting as many as 306 positions, many of them teachers, aides or counselors. Last year, similar budget problems led to more than 500 job cuts, including hundreds of teachers.

School advocates today are expected to lobby the D.C. Council for at least $11 million to help stave off the elimination of jobs. However, union officials said they have been told by school system officials that the cuts are a possibility.

“We’ve been told that pretty much the teachers who are being cut … will be placed in vacancies throughout other schools, and that’s what should occur,” Mr. Parker said. “But the bigger issue is that we won’t want to have any more cuts in the total number of positions that are needed … and the overall number of teachers.”

Unlike last year, the union so far has been striking a conciliatory tone with the school system administration and the new schools Superintendent Clifford B. Janey. Last year, the union filed a lawsuit in response to the job cuts. That case is still in litigation, according to the union.

The union, under new leadership after an embezzlement scandal more than two years ago, is also negotiating an employment contract with the school system.

“I do have some optimism in terms of Dr. Janey so that we can have a consistent budget from year to year so teachers can feel more confident in their job security,” Mr. Parker said.

Tony Demasi, the school system’s acting executive director of human resources, has said school administrators are working with the D.C. Council to try to come up with money to avoid the job cuts.

Meanwhile, school system activists this afternoon are planning to lobby the council by staging a rally outside the John A. Wilson Building in Northwest after visiting council members’ offices.

“The message is that the schools need more resources, not less,” said Marc Borbely, a rally organizer.

The activists are hoping to resurrect a proposal offered by D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat, that would shift about $11 million from other city agencies to help stave off the job cuts.

Last month, the measure was defeated on a 6-5 vote, with council members Vincent C. Gray, Ward 7 Democrat, and Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, absent from the meeting.

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