City schools lay off employees in central office shake-up

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CEO Gregory Thornton

So the Baltimore City school CEO Gregory Thornton lays off 159 hard-working, dedicated teachers because the school system “misplaced” $70+ million – the second such misuse of dollars over $50 million in the past decade – and yet the Sun only points to Governor Hogan’s decision not to allocate $12M more $$ to a system that has yet to answer for where that $$ went? Why aren’t city leaders calling “emergency council hearings” and investigations into this theft of tax – payer money?

The same situation goes for Prince George’s County Public Schools where Kevin Maxwell invaded children reserve fund to pay off connected close friends and buddies to a tune of $18 million without any oversight. Both Prince George’s County and Baltimore City are the epicenter for corruption in Maryland with Prince George’s County leading the way. The media and our local politicians don’t even raise this issue any more…and once again, they steal millions of dollars causing layoffs to great teachers, staff and nobody is held accountable for it?! Smdh…a damn shame?!#‎RealRant‬ ‪#‎Accountability‬ ‪#‎MrPolitics‬ #PGCPSMESS

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Dr. Kevin Maxwell

More than 150 Baltimore city school employees received layoff notices Wednesday, part of a promised cost-saving measure in city schools CEO Gregory Thornton’s first budget.

School officials said that 159 staff positions were eliminated and another 16 employees have been reassigned. The layoffs were the first in the district in at least a decade.

Thornton, who took over as school system CEO last summer, said in previous budget discussions that at least 100 central office staff would be let go this year. He has been working to close a $108 million gap in the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Thornton said in a statement that the decision to cut jobs was a “challenging” one. Some staff, he said, were let go immediately; others will go June 30.

The layoffs, he said, are “necessary not only to balance the budget for the upcoming year, but to put the district on the path to financial stability for the long term.”

“By taking this difficult step today, we’re investing in our students for tomorrow.”

City school officials declined to answer questions about the layoffs, including how much the job cuts would save the district.

Thornton had hired consultants to identify inefficiencies at the central office, such as duplicate jobs and services. In a letter to staff Wednesday, he wrote that the decisions were not based on performance, and the district would help those who were laid off find jobs.

About 930 central office administrators remain. They are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the district, from payroll to academic support.

The central office will continue to go through a shake-up, including the creation of new positions that union officials hope some of their displaced members can fill.

Jimmy Gittings, president of the union that represents school district administrators, said he hopes to get members who have lost their jobs placed in other positions.

Baltimore Teachers Union President Marietta English said in a statement the union also would try to place its members in open positions.

“There are vacancies in the district that have not been filled, and it makes sense to us that these members should fill those voids,” English said.

City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said she is concerned about the layoffs.

“We try to avoid layoffs, but apparently in this case the school board couldn’t avoid it,” she said. “Everyone who is laid off is devastated and rightly so, and it’s another person without work in Baltimore City. I am not trying to second-guess the school board, but I hope they find positions for those people” who were displaced.

Thornton has said the layoffs would primarily be at the central office, but that teachers also could be affected.

He planned to deplete the district’s “surplus pool” — teachers and staff who are paid by the system but don’t have permanent placements. Thornton has said the district has spent millions in recent years to maintain the pool, which accounted for 200 position as of March.

English said the surplus workforce was created “because principals were allowed to eliminate positions they didn’t want at will, thus these members were put in a surplus pool. Our union has been fighting the surplus pool, asking simply: ‘Why weren’t these people placed in vacant positions?’

“It is our hope that those surplus employees will find another position in another school,” she said.

Thornton formally presented his budget package to the City Council on Wednesday. At the hearing, he was quizzed about summer programs, recreation centers and other academic programs.

The district lost out on $11.6 million in state funding that Gov. Larry Hogan declined to release to the city after the General Assembly set aside the money in the state budget. That money would have gone toward increasing the per-pupil spending allocations in neighborhood schools.

Hogan said he wants to use $68 million that lawmakers set aside for schools statewide to shore up what he calls an underfunded state employee pension system.

Reporter Yvonne Wenger contributed to this story.

Read more >>> Thornton tells lawmakers city schools will lay off 100 central office staff

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