Of the 1,007 first and second-year probationary teachers in Montgomery County who received their pink-slips last April, 148 are still waiting for a change as laid-off teachers in a school system burdened with budget cuts and declining enrollment.
"It is hard to tell if any more will be rehired," said Kenneth Muire, Montgomery County School Board public information officer. "We anticipate that there may be as many as 50 teacher resignations in the next three weeks (before school begins on Sept. 6). Some we might be able to replace with teachers on lay-off status. For others, we will have to hire brand new teachers."
For the past three years, Montgomery County schools have sent lay-off notices to probationary teachers to comply with state contract requirements and tricky budget deadlines. The school board budget is not approved unitl May 15 and state school teachers contracts require lay-off notices must be sent by May 1 to probationary teachers if they are not to be considered for the next school year.
"So we must send them all a lay-off notice, because we don't know how many teachers we need or can afford," Muir said.
This is the first year that the massive lay-offs of April have become a reality in September, Muir said. Continuing qualified people. Last year we had 10,000 applications for 300 jobs.
"In the past, we used to hire any old warm body. But that's all over. It wasn't good for the profession and it sure wasn't good for the kids."
[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] decline in student enrollment and massive budget cuts by the country council resulted in the elimination of 260 teaching positions this year. School board officials have had to shift teachers with tenure from schools with declining enrollments to positions normally held by probationary teachers.
Another hitch to rehiring laid-off probationary teachers is certification. "At the secondary level, most teachers are certificated by the state to teach one or two subjects," said Edward Andrews, associate superintendent for personnel services. "If, for instance, we have a vacancy business education, one of the probationary teachers on lay-off will get that jobs. On the other hand, if we have a vacancy in music, and no one on the lay-off list is certificated in that area, we'll have to hire someone new."
So far, the school system has hired 22 new teachers for the school year, with the majority in special education.
Tom Gray, director of membership relations for the Montgomery County Educators Assn., the bargaining unit for many teachers, said the union was "not happy" so many teachers are still on lay-off status this close to be the begining of the school year. "But we are very happy that out of 1,007,804 of them were rehired."
Gray said he is not sure how many teachers would be willing to wait down to the wire before giving up hope of a teaching job this year. "I imagine a large number of them are waiting, though. The teacher mobility of the '60s is a bygone phenomenon."
Muir concurred adding, "At the moment, teaching insitutions are pumping out two graduates for every job that exists. There is no shortage of [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE].