Original URL: http://www.azstarnet.com/star/sat/30426RESOURCETEACHERS.html

Jobs shuffled in TUSD restructuring
April 26, 2003
By Sarah Garrecht Gassen

TUSD central office teachers received notice Friday that they are being transferred to classrooms or yet-to-be-determined jobs.

Tucson Unified School District sent notices to 79 teachers who work in centralized jobs, such as resource teachers who help other educators develop their teaching skills, that their positions are eliminated for next year and they will have to apply for new jobs.

Resource teachers with ethnic studies departments or the Project Links federal grant, which works with other school districts, were exempted from the transfer in part because of federal requirements, said Superintendent Stan Paz.

The move, which follows a similar but largely unsuccessful attempt last fall to move resource teachers from the district office to classrooms, comes as part of Paz's  district restructuring.

Paz said fewer than 50 new central office teacher jobs will be offered in his new structure, working at a district level on things such as math and reading instruction or helping teachers improve their skills.

Resource teachers may apply for the new positions, which could be posted by Tuesday, or put in for classroom teacher openings.

Some of the 79 teachers are part of federal grants that are ending this year. Others are part of federal programs to help at-risk students, K-3 education and bilingual  education programs.

"We're still committed to those things, but it's a matter of streamlining and creating job descriptions reflective of new duties," Paz said.

The teachers will keep their current pay, he said.

Department administrators have also been asked to summarize their unit's essential functions to help Paz create the new plan.

"It's Paz's plan, and as far as I can see it's to empty everybody out and start over again fresh, meaning putting in the people he wants to be in there, the people he thinks are on his side," said Bob Wortman, who oversees federal Title 1 programs in TUSD.

Resource teachers in his department received the transfer notices yesterday, and his position was eliminated earlier this month by an initial round of administrative cuts. He now plans to retire.

"The morale among my resource staff is incredibly low," Wortman said. "They are feeling like what they do hasn't mattered because they're all being cut."

Resource teachers contacted Friday did not want to talk about the transfers.

The Tucson Education Association, which represents teachers in contract negotiations, did not know the letter was coming out yesterday. The process may  have violated the consensus agreement between the district and employees, said President Marilyn Freed.

"This reflects the general manner in which the superintendent and his administration is choosing to treat employees," she said. "If you're going to tell people of a dramatic change, it ought to be done face-to-face, not with a piece of paper telling people the preliminary news on a Friday afternoon."

Transferred employees must attend a meeting Tuesday afternoon for more information, according to the letter.

TUSD also sent out a separate notice to all employees yesterday, warning of possible job or salary cuts because of budget constraints.

The notice is required by state law and district officials say they do not think the budget-related cuts will happen, but needed to issue the warnings to be safe.

"There are no plans, no proposals, cuts are not even being contemplated at this time," Paz said in response to rumors that large-scale pay or job cuts are imminent because of state funding issues.

"My understanding is it's just a precaution and I don't expect to ever see it happen," said TUSD board member Judy Burns. "We've got loads of options before we'd have to resort to anything like that."

TUSD knows it must pay $6.9 million more into the state retirement system - which will cost employees more in contributions, too - along with $2.6 million more in health care costs.

The state is warning districts that the final budget may not be complete until September, so TUSD has temporarily suspended salary negotiations for the 2003-04 school year.

* Contact reporter Sarah Garrecht Gassen at 573-4117 or at sgassen@azstarnet.com.



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