For a second year, layoffs impact about 500 Shelby County educators

About 500 Shelby County teachers will lose their jobs next school year through school closures, decreased enrollment or budget cuts, with the expectation of rehiring most of them for other teaching positions, the district’s human resources chief announced Friday.

In a brief conference call with reporters on the final day of the district’s school year, Trinette Small said the affected teachers will receive written notice within five days. However, most already have received verbal notice that their positions are being eliminated, she said.

Small said the district, which is one of Memphis’ largest employers, already has rehired or replaced at least half of the displaced teachers and expects to find placement for most of the rest.

“In previous years, we’ve been able to rehire more than 97 percent of displaced teachers due to attrition and changes in enrollment at particular schools,” she said. “For example, we’ll have folks that will retire and resign which will create vacancies, and that’s how we will find placement for those teachers.”

A jobs fair is planned for June.

“We will continue to work with these displaced teachers to get them rehired, and we certainly want to see all of our top-performing teachers back in the classroom,” Small said.

Due to yearly enrollment and budget decreases, layoffs have become an annual practice for Tennessee’s largest school district.

And under a teacher improvement initiative launched in 2010, the district has sought to dismiss low-rated teachers who do not improve as part of its overhaul of practices to hire, place, evaluate and pay teachers.

Last June, the district laid off more than 500 educators two months after approving $125 million in budget cuts. This year, the school board approved $45 million in cuts and is waiting to see if the Shelby County Commission will increase its funding to cover a remaining $35 million shortfall.

Due to new state notification requirements, teachers impacted this year are learning about the changes sooner than those displaced last year. The teachers will continue to receive their benefits through June 30, the last day of the fiscal year.

Shelby County Schools employs 14,500 people, including about 7,000 teachers.