Baltimore City Public Schools is set to lay off 115 full-time employees this month, most of them in actual schools, rather than the central district office on North Avenue.
Among the 83 employees set to receive pink slips, 24 are assistant principals, 21 are librarians or school counselors and 15 are schoolteachers. Thirty-four are members of the Baltimore Teachers Union.
“All affected staff members are being notified in person today of their loss of employment,” the school system’s statement said. “Job-seeking resources, counseling, and other support are being provided to all affected employees.”
Layoffs were expected. In fact, the number announced today was a fraction of the 1,000-plus mark that weighed over the city back in late January, when Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises announced a $130 million funding gap equalling a tenth of the school system’s total budget for 2017-18.
Over the past several months, parents, teachers and students held rallies in Baltimore and Annapolis, calling on Mayor Catherine Pugh, Gov. Larry Hogan and state lawmakers to “fix the gap.”
The school system was able fill $59 million of that $130 million deficit with state and city funds, which were announced by Pugh and Del. Maggie McIntosh back in March. With additional internal cuts, the school system brought the number of positions at risk – then 300 — down to 115. That work involved shifting money around from other areas, eliminating already-vacant positions and reassigning teachers to other positions.
Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, said in a statement that the school system’s method of announcing layoffs in person today is “unprecedented.”
“This is a humiliating and truly shocking act that comes on the heels of a stressful semester. The actions of the District will upend classroom instruction and student performance today and for the remainder of the school year,” she said. “It is incomprehensible to me that the District would lay off any loyal, highly-functioning employee, who has played a key role in ensuring our children’s success when they have nearly two-hundred vacant positions that need to be filled.”
The school system’s announcement suggested some of the fired teachers could get their jobs back “as new vacancies will continue to be created through July 15.”
Two years ago, the school system handed out 150 pink slips to address a $108 million deficit. Last year, about 100 jobs were cut.