Jobs shuffled in TUSD restructuring
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
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
"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
* Contact reporter Sarah Garrecht Gassen at 573-4117 or at