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Filling Teaching Positions Comes Down To The Wire

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Aired 8/19/11

San Diego city school teachers go back to work on August 31st. But many won’t know where to go that morning until the day before.

— Hundreds of San Diego Unified teachers were laid off this summer. But that doesn’t mean all of those positions just disappear. Each summer the district reshuffles teachers who want to switch schools or whose own schools have had their enrollment shrink so they need fewer teachers. This year that process is even more complicated.

Teachers go back to work August 31st. But many will have to wait until just the day before to find out where exactly they’ll be working. All of those layoffs have stretched out the teacher placement process longer than usual.

Principals have until August 29th to choose from current district employees to fill positions left open by those layoffs. The district’s human resources department will have just one day to make the final assignments, according to districts staff.

Even under normal circumstances the annual reshuffling can be tough on schools like Sherman Elementary, according to Edward Caballero, the school's principal. Nearly all of his students qualify for free or reduced price lunch and more than 80 percent are not native English speakers.

“We need to have the highest qualified teachers," Caballero said. "So, in our process that are excessed from other sites – so not necessarily did they want to come to Sherman, but that’s the position that’s available.”

Mann Middle School in City Heights lost about half its 42 teachers to layoffs. Principal Esther Omogbehin said her laid off staff had spent three years working together to pull up the school’s test scores.

“I lose all that foundation and whoever else I bring in still needs to have their own little growing pains before they get to the level where these teachers are," she said. "So, it makes me a little bit nervous and I’m not too happy about it – I will tell you that.”

Positions left open by layoffs are filled first by staff who lost their postings because their previous school shrunk, then by other district employees.

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