Earlier school layoff notices possible

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Gazette staff and Associated Press
Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wisconsin’s public school administrators are being advised to approve preliminary layoff notices for staff by the end of the month—even before they find out how much the state is expected to contribute to their budgets.

The advisory from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards has school officials scrambling.

The association is urging local school officials to decide on staff cuts by Monday or risk having those layoffs challenged later in court.

Janesville schools Superintendent Karen Schulte said Wednesday that the district is waiting for more information from its labor lawyer before deciding what to do.

If the association is right, the school board would meet this weekend to approve the layoffs, Schulte said.

Many teachers contracts, including Janesville’s, require teachers be notified by May 1 of layoffs for the following school year. But those deadlines could be wiped out with the passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill, which eliminates most collective bargaining rights.

If the contract language is no longer in effect, then the deadline for layoff notices becomes the state law. State law requires notices by March 15. Teachers must also receive a preliminary notice 15 days before that.

Schulte said if the district has to decide now, officials probably would err on the side of caution and issue more notices than might ultimately be needed to balance the budget. Officials have said that some number of teacher layoffs will be needed to balance the district’s 2011-12 budget.

Janesville human resources director Steve Sperry told the school board Tuesday that he’s still working on plans for next year’s staffing levels.

The district’s original timeline had called for staffing deliberations in March and approval of layoff notices April 12.

While state aid for next year won’t be known until Walker releases his budget Tuesday, it has been widely reported that school aid will be cut. Janesville officials have heard that their aid could be cut by $5 million. That’s on top of the $10 million budget shortfall that officials have been talking about for several months.

Last updated: 4:14 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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