Nearly all of the 71 teachers the Kyrene School District laid off earlier this year in case the Proposition 100 sales tax hike didn’t pass have been rehired.
Of the 71 teachers who received reduction in force notices this spring, plus 12 who received RIF notices last year and ultimately didn’t take jobs in the district, only 14 haven’t been placed in a classroom.
All but three of those teachers have been offered a job at this point. Eight declined, one let their certificate or fingerprint card expire and can’t yet be legally called back, two haven’t returned phone calls yet and one took a teacher on special assignment position.
The three remaining teachers are physical education teachers. The district won’t know how many PE positions it will have and whether it will be able to offer those teachers positions until July.
District administrators were excited to call back so many teachers, said district spokeswoman Nancy Dudenhoefer.
“I think our community is going to be thrilled. It was obvious they supported the vote and knew what the meaning was of it,” Dudenhoefer said. “I know there were people who were disappointed as to who was RIFed.”
The cuts stemmed from projected budget deficits in Kyrene next year.
Due to declining enrollment, all-day kindergarten funding cuts and other issues, the district was already expecting a $6 million budget cut. Administrators anticipated being able to cover those deficits without cutting teachers.
But then, additional funding cuts and the uncertainty surrounding Proposition 100 came on the scene.
The state planned to impose additional cuts on education unless the 1 percent, three-year sales tax passed, which would have left Kyrene with a $12 million deficit. Kyrene came up with a plan “A” and plan “B” budget and took precautionary measures in case the tax was turned down, including handing out pink slips to 71 first- and second-year teachers.It was very clearly laid out, what would happen if the vote was yes and what would happen if the vote was no,” Dudenhoefer said.
When voters approved that tax hike in May, the Kyrene district and other public school systems around the state were able to breathe a sigh of relief. Kyrene was able to start offering those 71 teachers jobs again, plus 12 others who were cut in a similar process the previous year but opted against taking jobs at that time. RIF lists require districts to offer jobs to cut teachers based on hire date, and keep teachers on a recall list for three years after they are cut.
Not only was Kyrene able to bring back most of its old teachers, it needs to hire a few new ones. For now, there are nine elementary school positions and seven middle school jobs that need to be filled.
Some of those have already been posted and screenings have started, Dudenhoefer said.
But it’s too early to tell whether the teaching workforce will be more or less than the 1,107 teachers the district had last year. Students are still enrolling, so that final staffing number is fluid, Dudenhoefer said.