ANDERSON — Students and administrators offered moving testimonials about scholastic triumphs in the Success Academies at Highland Middle School and Anderson High School Tuesday night.
But later in the Anderson Community Schools Board of Trustees meeting, members unanimously authorized laying off 12 teachers — three of whom work in the specialized programs that students praised.
That irony was not lost on school board President Ben Gale on Wednesday.
"Because of the contract the board has with the Anderson Federation of Teachers, we have to go in order of seniority, so we're not able to take into consideration how effective a teacher is," Gale said. "It kind of leaves a bad taste in our mouths, but for now, that's what we have to live with."
Interim Superintendent Tim Edsell also acknowledged the achievements students have made in the two programs.
"The two Success Academies are doing great work and so are those teachers," he said.
Still, the driving force behind the layoff notices are projected enrollment numbers for 2014-15 school year, Edsell said.
Some of the teachers may be called back if enrollment increases, or if additional veteran teachers announce plans to retire.
"We continue to receive retirement letters and that affects the number of layoffs," which could mean that some of the teachers who received layoff notifications may be recalled, Edsell said.
How many might still have jobs in the school district come August is hard to forecast, he added. "It just depends on the number of retirement letters that we receive from this point forward."
Early last month, the school board approved a resolution to reopen its collective bargaining agreement with teachers in an effort to address the state’s grades of local schools and teacher evaluations.
So far, there has only been one informal discussion between the two sides, Gale said.
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