As the legislature addresses the revenue shortfall, school, ESD and community college boards are grappling with budget cuts.
What are the options? Boards are looking at layoffs, shortened school year, compressed school week, classroom program adjustments and reducing extra curricular programs.
According to OSBA Human Resource Development staff, “It’s important to understand the impact cuts could have on the collective bargaining process. Labor contracts may specify that length of the school year and annual compensation cannot be changed. There may also be a duty to bargain the impact of reductions.”
Teacher layoff procedures are addressed in ORS 342.934 and in collective bargaining agreements. Although no statutory requirements exist for classified layoff, most classified contracts include layoff procedures.
For licensed staff, the board must consider seniority and licensure and may address competence and merit. There is a statutory definition of competence, but many contracts provide different definitions. If your contract provides for merit distinctions, the board needs to evaluate. Personnel files need to be reviewed and a notice given to staff requesting licensure and endorsement updates due by a specific date. Developing a matrix for licensed staff reductions is helpful when considering these multiple factors.
Seniority and qualifications are often the basis for classified staff layoff, but it is important to learn if your contract uses seniority, classification seniority or both. Often, classified contracts allow for “bumping” as well, which can create a domino effect and prolong the layoff process. Contractual definitions of layoff typically include both position eliminations as well as hour reductions.
Both licensed and classified contracts often provide notification obligations, ranging from as soon as possible to 90 days. It is important to keep this in mind and evaluate the impact of having to wait prior to executing a layoff.
If you are bargaining this year, pay special attention to your layoff/recall procedures. Do they help your district maintain program integrity? These procedures are often ignored during bargaining as they are rarely used, but they become very significant in times of economic crisis.