Many Northern Virginia teachers who were laid off last spring by public schools will return to classrooms this fall, local school officials said last week.
In Fairfax County, the largest school system in Northern Virginia, 28 full-time teachers were riffed -- laid off due to declining enrollments and budget problems -- last spring. All but seven have been rehired.
"When we have to rif make a reduction in force , we rif our part-time people first, but we are a lot better off than most systems," said school spokesman George Hamel. "We are a large system, our decline in enrollment hasn't been that great and we have a lot of mobility."
The Fairfax schools expect to employ about 7,200 teachers this fall for a projected student enrollment of 122,000, Hamel said. Last year, 124,800 students were enrolled in Fairfax schools.
In Arlington, 119 teachers were riffed this year; so far, 46 have not yet been rehired, said personnel director Nicholas Prencipe.
Last year, Arlington riffed 162 teachers but found jobs for all those who wanted to come back, Prencipe said. "Not always at the same time, though," he said. "We hired the last ones back in January."
Arlington expects about 14,000 students this fall, about the same as last year, and a faculty of about 970. Like other school administrators, Prencipe said Arlington hopes to rehire all laid-off workers, but warned that there are few openings this year because fewer teachers have quit or retired.
"It is getting tighter," he said, "perhaps because of the economy."
In Alexandria, where 10,250 students are expected this fall, officials expect to have a faculty of 743.
"We riffed 27 teachers this year and have found positions for eight of them," said Assistant Superintendent John E. DuVall. "This is not the first year we've riffed but we've usually been able to hire them all back eventually to fill the places of teachers who have left. This year the turnover is zilch."
Many of the riffed teachers were younger faculty members, DuVall said.
"It is unfortunate that we have to rif some of our newest talent, who have recent training and new outlooks," said DuVall. "It's disappointing to principals to lose their shining stars."
DuVall said Alexandria may be able to rehire a few more teachers during the coming school year, but probably won't be able to call back all of them. The school system, he said, has combined some vacant part-time positions and filled them with riffed teachers.
"We're still juggling (jobs)," he said.
Loudoun County riffed 36 teachers last spring, said Deputy Superintendent Robert Jarvis. So far, Jarvis said, all but seven have been rehired to fill vacancies created when other teachers quit or retired. There are 900 teachers and 14,000 students in the school system, he said.
"Last year we riffed 20 and they all came back," he said. "We are lucky because our enrollment is steadily growing: we've doubled in the last 10 years. But we have almost no turnover in staff."
Jarvis said the average teaching experience of Loudoun's faculty has increased from three years to five years in the past decade, but said the system has been hiring new math, science and special education teachers, "which tends to keep that average down." This year, Jarvis said, Loudoun County hired 30 new teachers, most of whom will teach special education or math.
Prince William County, which has the second largest school system in Northern Virginia with an estimated 35,600 students, did not lay off any teachers this year.
"We had no rifs this year," said school spokeswoman Kristy Larson, who added that the schools expect to have about 2,100 teachers this fall. "Last year we sent (rif) notices to 187 teachers but hired the vast majority of them back because we always have a good turnover of teachers."
Generally, however, school officials report little turnover in their faculties.
"Positions are tight this year," said Alexandria's DuVall, "there is no denying that."