- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The head of the union that represents D.C. Public Schools teachers said Tuesday that he thinks there is a “high probability” hundreds of teachers who received “excess” notices this week ultimately will be terminated.

Washington Teachers Union President Nathan Saunders said his organization already is talking with acting schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson about the possibility of reversing some of those notices without sending teachers through the grievance process and will be paying close attention to Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s reaction of the scenario.

“How Vince Gray uses the teacher’s contract is going to be an indication of his character,” Mr. Saunders said. “We are watching closely. We are not defenseless, and we will not be taken advantage of.”

The school system employs about 4,000 teachers and 2,300 other employees, including teachers’ aides, janitors and support staff. As of Tuesday, 745 jobs, including 384 held by teachers’ union members, were up for elimination.

Through a process called “excessing,” the school system is evaluating and redistributing positions based on the budget and the needs of individual schools, officials said.

Principals and local school advisory teams worked together to identify positions to be cut, schools spokesman Fred Lewis said. Teachers whose positions are being cut will be given the opportunity to interview for positions at other schools, Mr. Lewis said.

After last year’s excesses, 79 percent of teachers union members found placement at another school, said Jason Kamras, chief of human capital for the school system. The school system did not provide figures on the number of excesses last year, but Mr. Saunders said he thinks the number this year seems to be much higher.

A contract between the school system and the Washington Teachers Union states that the excessing process considers seniority of teachers but it is largely performance-based.

Excessed teachers rated as effective or highly effective will have the option of resigning and receiving a $25,000 buyout, while those with more than 20 years of service would be eligible to retire.

Other teachers will have a year to try to find another position within the school system.

Despite the position cuts, the city’s proposed fiscal 2012 budget would add a total of 121 full-time equivalent positions to the 7,807 positions approved in fiscal 2011.

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