When it comes to the immediate problems threatening Piedmont’s schools, California’s "last hired, first fired" policy regarding teacher layoffs does not make the list, according to one school board member.
What’s most frustrating as the Piedmont Unified School District prepares for the 2011-2012 academic year, says Rick Raushenbush, is the state’s flagrant inability to deliver promised funds for education.
“Imagine trying to plan class sizes and offerings, and the number of teachers and staff needed to provide them to students, when you do not know when or if you will receive up to 20 percent of the amount that Proposition 98 'guarantees' a district as the 'floor' for state funding,” wrote Raushenbush in an email response to Piedmont Patch’s questions about the effects of the state’s "last hired, first fired" policy on PUSD.
Piedmont resident to end the policy in California. Pech feels it's one of the most significant detriments to a child’s education and that Piedmonters should be on board to change California’s Education Code.
Although Raushenbush agrees that the contentious policy “can have distressing results in certain circumstances and in some school districts,” Piedmont is not one of those districts.
In recent years, as school districts have cut back in the midst of economic crisis, . In Piedmont, the fraction of educators with two years of experience or less has fallen from 4.9 percent in the 2005-2006 school year to 2.2 percent in 2009.
PUSD's school board authorized a reduction of the equivalent of 4.4 full-time certificated positions for the upcoming school year. First and foremost, Raushenbush notes, where that ax falls will be determined by the "particular kinds of service" designated for the cuts–i.e. the decision to shrink programs including elementary school music, middle school counseling services, and high school math.
Once the decisions on which programs to trim are made, if PUSD is then forced to hand out pink slips, it does so based on seniority.
"In many cases, the 'first hired' is likely to be the 'last fired'," Raushenbush wrote about the consequences of the school district's compliance with the Ed. Code requirements.
“On the whole ... I would prefer that the district be allowed to consider more than seniority in deciding which teachers to retain."
How to identify the most effective teachers and encourage them to share their techniques is being considered by PUSD's new Evaluation Committee.
"Because the vast majority of teachers in Piedmont are very good to excellent, we are focused on further improvement rather than how to conduct layoffs," Raushenbush said.