Preference in Putnam County Florida

Please sign this petition if you think that teachers laid off due to the current economic debacle should receive preferential consideration if instructional positions open up. The following is an article from Palatka Daily News that explain our plight: 122 teachers told their jobs are on the line By Al Krombach Published: Saturday, February 28, 2009 1:57 AM EST One hundred and twenty-two Putnam County teachers learned Friday they may not have jobs when the new school year begins in the fall. Principals met with teachers on annual contract - mostly those with one to three years of employment in the county - to tell them that, as things stand, their contracts will not be renewed when this school year ends. A letter from the school administration reinforced the message. "We felt like so many are calling and asking what the department is going to do," Werner Hollaway, executive director of human resources, said. "We see this happening at other places. There is so much uncertainty and rumors, we felt it was appropriate to state the position we knew we would be following at this time." The school system has not adopted a budget for next school year and administrators don't yet know how much money will be coming from state or federal sources. Based on current figures, the system faces as much as a $13 million shortfall. School Superintendent Tom Townsend said he wanted to get the word out as early as possible so employees can plan accordingly. "It's about being respectful to our teachers," he said. "I would want to know what's going to happen if I were in that situation. We owe it to our people to let them know what's going on." It was generally understood that, given the forecast budget shortfall, the jobs of teachers on annual contract were in jeopardy. But the timing of the official notification was questioned by some teachers and parents, coming about two weeks before annual FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) testing. "It is a premature action on the part of the management team," said Sharon Hughes, president of the Putnam Federation of Teachers/United. Hughes said the union was not advised or consulted before the notices went out. She said the Legislature hasn't met yet to determine how much will be spent on education. "We still have a month or two before we know," she said. "After that time we will have a better idea about what's going on." Hughes also said that, as it stands, teachers who are let go at the end of this school year will have no preferential status if and when jobs should reopen next fall. "We're certainly going to ask for that," she said. "The process will be, if they are not renewed and we are able to have positions we are able to post, they will be able to reapply for those positions and principals will choose among the array of applicants to fill those positions," Hollaway said. Townsend said there is "nothing we want more" than to keep as many teachers as possible. "We're going to get through this in a very open manner so that everyone knows what the situation is," he said. "It's happening all over the state," he added. On his way Friday afternoon to a pro-education rally in St. Johns County, Townsend said it will take a concerted effort by everyone to improve the grim outlook. "The power to change this lies in Tallahassee," he said. The school board meets at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting site has been changed to the Putnam County Commission meeting room in the governmental complex on Crill Avenue to accommodate the expected turnout. Staff writer Chris DeVitto contributed to this article. akrombach@palatkadailynews.com

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