Dallas Schools Layoff More Than 300 Teachers

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Dallas school officials laid off hundreds of teachers Thursday in an attempt to avoid a projected $84 million budget deficit.

About 375 teachers, or 3 percent of the district's 11,500 teaching workforce, were released Thursday and an additional 460 were transferred to other schools, district officials said.

Some 40 assistant principals and counselors were also given notice on Thursday.

"Today is a day of tremendous sadness throughout the district," Dallas schools Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said in a statement. "These teachers and counselors are people who devoted themselves to helping Dallas students and we will do everything within our power to help them find new jobs."

The news came during first period for Tom Warner, an architectural drafting teacher, at Pinkston High school.

" I explained to them, 'No, I'm not going to be their teacher,' and we have a couple of girls who started crying," he said. "They shouldn't have done it during the school hours at all, I don't think because  I had to go back to my classroom and get my things and face my students."

The school district did not release a breakdown on the types of teachers involved in the layoffs, but The Dallas Morning News had previously reported that a preliminary draft it obtained showed that the majority were believed to be uncertified elementary school teachers, most of whom were hired within the last three years. The newspaper said the preliminary report also showed several dozen high school-level English and history teachers would be laid off.

Last week, about 215 teachers left the district under an employee buyout program that let workers volunteer for the layoff. In addition, 213 non-contract workers have been let go since Sept. 29 and the district eliminated another 197 vacant positions.

The deficit, which increased by about $1 million each week, was caused by years of accounting, budgeting and hiring errors in the Dallas Independent School District, officials said last month.

School officials have said they expect 1,100 total cuts, including layoffs and eliminations of vacant positions.

The district said the combination of job cuts and unfilled vacancies will result in a net savings of about $30 million. An additional $38 million is being saved via program cuts throughout the district.

Hinojsa said more cost-cutting measures will be needed.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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