Thirty of the 76 Davenport teachers laid off this spring will return to the district next year, albeit many with new positions.
Due to a strict mandate from the School Budget Review Committee, Davenport Schools must cut more than $13 million from its general fund budget by the end of the 2020 fiscal year. As between 80 and 85% of the general fund is allocated toward salaries, a drastic “reduction in staff” was needed, and 83 positions needed to be reduced.
Some positions were reduced through attrition and retirement — most were not.
At the school board’s March 25 meeting, 74 teachers were laid off. The vast majority — 68 — were probationary teachers, eliminated en masse as part of the consent agenda, alongside the approval of minutes for previous meetings. The remaining six were non-probationary teachers, and the board had to lay each one off individually.
Two more probationary teachers were laid off April 8, but both were included in the 30 teachers recalled Monday night.
Union representative Toby Paone said almost all of the laid off teachers had actually been recalled.
“As of right now, about 60 people … have been called back, with about half of them saying yes, and the other half saying no,” he said via phone call.
Those remaining 30 positions will have to be filled “eventually,” Paone said, adding that many were more difficult positions to fill because of certification specifications.
According to the website for Davenport Community Schools, there are nine teaching openings at the early childhood and elementary school level, 14 at the intermediate level and two at the high school level. Of those 25 teaching positions, 16 are in special education.
Davenport schools have faced scrutiny from the state for special education and had to complete re-evaluations for 2,866 students in April, after having been cited the previous year.
“If there’s no one on the recall list issued with the certification, they have to extend that offer externally,” Paone said.
While teachers are called back in order of seniority, they only have one chance to accept a job in the district, even if it’s not the job they previously worked.
“The way the rules work is if you’re offered a job in the district and you turn it down, you’re off the recall list,” Paone said.
Of the non-probationary teachers laid off, only one was listed on the list of recalled teachers. Paone said others had already accepted new jobs, some as close as in Pleasant Valley or Central DeWitt. At least one said no because the new job they were offered wasn’t what they had taught before or wanted.