On Tuesday, the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board will once again have to face the realities associated with the dramatic drop in enrollment last year. That drop has forced District to consider staffing cuts.
Board members had hoped to increase the percentage of money going into the classrooms; which now stands at less than 50 percent. Facing a $1 million decrease in funding, community members are now urging the Board to not renew contracts of personnel inside the Central Office, while protecting classroom spending as much as possible.
There are considerable positions that 1) are not required under the desegregation court order, and 2) are non-essential positions.
Arizona law, A.R.S. 15-503.D, requires school board to notify certified staff on or before April 15 that their contracts will not be renewed. However, due to the failure of TUSD administrative staff to place contract renewal on an agenda prior to or on that date, the Board’s hands are tied as far as not renewing some contracts for those non-essential positions. As a result, the administration has put the classrooms at risk of cuts.
In other words, because the Governing Board has sole authority to hire and fire employees, by bringing contracts before the Board after the April 15 deadline for non-renewing certified administrators and certified directors, the TUSD administrator, specifically the Human Resources Department has effectively prevented the Board from exercising their authority.
However, the Board can refuse to renew the contracts of non-certified non-essential administrators at any time. Those positions include the director of Communications, and the director of Staff and Governing Board Services.
According to retired teacher and education activist, Lillian Fox:
Non-certified directors are covered by the 2016-17 Agreement for Non-Bargaining Employees.
The ELI and Non-Bargaining Employee Agreements include:
Non-certified administrators have no deadlines set by ARS 15, but the 2016-17 ELI agreement does set a deadline of May 15 for notifying their non-certified administrators of contract non-renewal. No director positions are listed in the 2016-17 ELI agreement.
Non-certified directors have no deadlines set by A.R.S. 15, nor does TUSD’s 2016-17 Agreement for Non-Bargaining Employees require they be notified of non-renewal by any specific date. The Non-Bargaining Agreement lists 49 director positions. The list of 49 includes both certified and non-certified directors.
The 2016-17 Non-Bargaining agreement addresses administrators covered by the agreement:
Administrators covered by this Agreement are employed by the individual contracts on an annual basis, or pro-rata annual basis, as applicable. They receive no “tenure” rights, and all such contracts are subject to non-renewal. This provision shall not be construed to abrogate any rights afforded to an administrator under Arizona Revised Statute, Title 15.
While administrators protected their own jobs, an administrator created a “blackball list” of employees that should not be hired. Over the years, that list with its arbitrary standards was used against “enemies’ of administrators to block them from future employment with the District and at times with other employers.