Superintendent John Fitzsimons said on Monday that the cuts made last week to teaching staff because the administration has “a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of the community to not over staff our schools and once discovered, act to correct the situation.”
He added that plans are in place to prevent this from happening in the future and that he is “sorry that the discovery came about after the school year began."
The school board will get a full report at the Oct. 10 meeting, which will include a number of recommendations on the scheduling of the middle schools and high schools. The meeting will be at the Parsippany Troy Hills Township Board of Education building. The time of the meeting will be posted on the district’s website.
On Sunday, the Parsippany-Troy Hills Education Association reacted to the district’s actions, saying that it was a “despicable action” and “will have a detrimental impact on all students.” The Parsippany School District laid off one teacher and cut classes from a dozen more, according to the PTHEA.
Fitzsimons said in a statement that the total reduction in teaching staff totaled nine positions, “resulting in one full-time teacher losing a position entirely … The remaining eight staff members had their teaching loads modified accordingly to meet the remaining needs of the district … Most importantly, no student's schedule has been changed. However, some students may have a possible change in their teacher and classroom location.”
Teachers who were affected “were notified on Friday,” said Joe Kyle, president of the PTHEA, adding that he was not sure when “the administration decided to make these changes.”
On Monday, Fitzsimons said that the cuts were made because, “as a result of a loss of enrollment and careful analysis and review, we discovered that we were over-staffed in our middle school teaching positions.”
He said that a “significant number of classes (had) five or fewer students enrolled and (the district) began the process of collapsing classes without doing major damage to the master schedule.”
Fitzsimons added that they couldn’t justify these small classes and the “accompanying overstaffing.”
“It hit everyone as a shock,” said Kyle. “Our agreement with the Board requires that the Association be "consulted" no less than five days prior to any RIF notification. They told me the night before (Thursday night).”
The one teacher that was laid off, “as per contract, that teacher is entitled to a 60-day severance upon notification,” said Fitzsimons. “the (eight other) affected staff retained their full benefits. They, too, are entitled to the 60-day severance provision in the teacher’s contract.”
“The task proved to be very complex and time consuming and arduous,” said Fitzsimons, referring to the task of identifying “which teachers were to be affected since this is based on seniority and certification category.” He added that one of the factors in this decision was monetary, “but most importantly, we had to keep the integrity of our educational program for the students of our district.”