State-appointed Newark schools superintendent Cami Anderson is cutting some 500 jobs, including 200 teaching positions, 200 central office employees, and nearly 100 non-instructional workers, including clerks and aides. The resulting layoffs will follow tenure and seniority laws and regulations despite Anderson’s apparently failed effort to obtain permission from the state to ignore seniority.
Sources within both the Newark Teachers Union (NTU) and the central office confirmed the job cuts but stressed the actual number of men and women who will be fired is likely to be fewer because of retirements, resignations, and already vacant positions.
In an email to NTU members, John Abeigon, the union’s director of organization, said Newark Public Schools representatives met with union leaders to depict a “worst case scenario” that included the dismissal of 104 non-tenured teachers who already had received their notice of layoff letters. Abeigon said 93 non-instructional positions would be eliminated.
Meanwhile, Vanessa Rodriguez, Anderson’s chief labor relations aide, called in central office staff and said as many as 200-300 positions would be eliminated—but, again, the actual number of persons affected is likely to be lower. One meeting participant said the way she handled the meeting was hurtful, especially to long-term employees who had to stand by and watch while Anderson hired scores of new outsiders and gave them extraordinarily high salaries–about a dozen of whom now make $175,000 or more and that’s the governor’s salary.
Anderson is working on a special project for the Aspen Institute to increase the number of young top staff members.
“It was very matter of fact,” said one person at the meeting, “She told us the people laid off would be gone by August. I’ve never seen morale this law.”
If the numbers hold, the scope of the layoffs is smaller than originally feared. Earlier this year, union leaders expressed fear as many as 700 teachers might be laid off this year. Anderson herself has told some media she wanted to cut a third of the teaching staff.
NPS officials had steadfastly denied reports here that Anderson’s request for permission to ignore seniority rules had neither been withdrawn nor denied. A spokesman for Acting Education Commissioner David Hespe said no action had yet been taken on the elaborate, 100-page request for a waiver of seniority rules. Anderson wanted to use the new teacher evaluation system to determine which teachers would be fired.