Hammond school district delays sending teachers layoff notices

2012-05-29T22:50:00Z 2012-05-30T16:40:04Z Hammond school district delays sending teachers layoff noticesBy Carmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | The School City of Hammond plans to wait to send out letters informing district teachers of impending layoffs.

School officials said they may need to cut as many as 60 teachers. Instead of sending the reduction of force letters Wednesday, the district will send them the last day of school June 13.

"We know that we have a lot of people who are very concerned," Hammond School Board President Deb White said.

Superintendent Walter Watkins said school leaders met with a labor attorney Tuesday to discuss the collective bargaining strategy. Watkins and White said teachers have not been laid off in the 12 years White has been on the board. Watkins said the district normally tries to handle cuts in teaching staff through attrition and staff buyouts.

Meanwhile, Watkins said he is going to work with the curriculum directors who in turn will work with principals and put together a list by the end of the week.

"It used to be that we had to notify teachers of reductions by May 1. The statute now says we have from May 1 to July 1," Watkins said. "I don't want my teachers to go away and not know what's going to happen. The goal is to get the information to teachers by the end of the school year."

Teachers who receive the letters won't be laid off necessarily. The letters are a formality to put teachers on notice they may be cut.

Hammond school leaders have said they need to cut $5.8 million from the 2013 budget as a result of inequities in the state funding formula and declining enrollment. Officials said summer meetings will be held to look at other cost-cutting measures such as energy savings and other reductions.

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