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Hundreds of teachers are not having their contracts renewed, thanks to a class schedule change

Hundreds of teachers are not having their contracts renewed, thanks to a class schedule change
Posted at 10:38 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 22:57:39-04

LEE COUNTY — It couldn't have come at a worse time.

As Floridians are losing their jobs left and right, some Lee County teachers are finding out their contracts will not be renewed next year. It's tied to a proposed class schedule change that was already in the works.

That schedule change is reducing the amount of classes students take, leaving their teachers in an uncertain position. Hundreds of instructors are being told they won’t have their job at their current school, with no promise of being re-hired somewhere else in the county.

The budget effects of the class schedule change are set to be discussed at the board meeting on Tuesday, but we got our hands on the document that breaks it down. The amount of classes students take is being cut, from 8 to 7 at 13 different high schools. The district estimates that will save about $8 million, but it will also require the "reallocation of over 100 teaching units".

“That’s a very difficult position to be in, especially when you have a family to support and responsibilities," said School Board Chair Mary Fischer.

We also spoke with school board member Betsy Vaughn about the position hundreds of teachers are about to be in.

“It breaks my heart that these teachers are getting these letters and not getting the reassurance that they should be getting," said Vaughn.

But Fischer said the teachers getting those notices should be assured that they will most likely be rehired before next year.

“It is rare when I see teachers left without a job... at the beginning of the next school year," said Fischer.

Meanwhile, the schedule change means students will have all seven of their classes every day, and the school day will be extended. Those are changes Fischer believes will help students learn.

“Most kids probably can benefit from seeing their teacher every day. I also was interested that we had a half an hour less than most other districts, and I thought we should do something about that also," said Fischer.

The school district does include this caveat for teachers losing their contracts: "This reallocation does not mean jobs lost for those with effective and highly effective evaluations."

However, we did speak with one teacher, who did not wish to be identified, who told us their contract is not being renewed, they have an "effective" rating with the district, and so far they have not received any assurance that they will have a job next year.

You can read the district's full proposal by clicking here. You will find the information about the budget impact on page 7.