Sheryl Fields walked into the meeting as the math humanities teacher at Diskin Elementary School and walked out less than 40 minutes later as the computer, technology and science humanities teacher at Lake Elementary School.
She was one of the 122 teachers in the Clark County School District who was “surplused” from their original school because of changes in enrollment and had to be reassigned to another school.
“You think you’ve got everything set, everything is fine and then — pfft — it’s not,” she said Thursday outside Del Sol Academy of Performing Arts after choosing her new assignment in a process similar to a sports draft.
Teachers were given a number based on their seniority in the district. They assembled in the school’s theater and were called up one by one to select their new job. Fields, who had made a list of her top choices, got her first choice and let out a heartfelt cheer after her selection, drawing laughter from her peers.
Each of the 122 teachers would end up in a new assignment within the district, said Andre Long, the district’s human resources officer. Support staff members — who underwent the process Wednesday morning — weren’t quite as lucky. Of the 141 support staff employees subject to surplus, 45 did not end up with a job.
Now the support staff will undergo a “reduction in force” process. Employees with higher seniority and better performance evaluations, among other factors, will be able to bump other employees out of jobs. The bumped employees then also have the chance to knock somebody else out.
The process is expected to take about two weeks before it is fully played out and the district will be able to say how many people are out of jobs.
The surplus assignment happens twice a year, although more support staff than usual were affected because of the ongoing budget crisis in the district. The district is trying to close a $50 million to $60 million budget hole.
‘Just happy I have a job’
Like many other teachers, Suzanne Garlick’s first choice would have been to stay put.
The 47-year-old didn’t want to leave her job as the resource teacher at Lyon Middle School in Overton. But she didn’t have a choice. But when she found out she had to leave, she and her husband looked at the other available jobs.
They mapped them out, because the couple lives in Overton, and also looked at how the schools performed academically. Garlick also knew she wanted to stay in a resource teacher position if possible.
On Monday, she’ll start at the resource teacher for primary students at Mackey Elementary School in North Las Vegas.
“That was my No. 1 pick,” she said. “I’m just happy I have a job. It’s fine.”
Fields also said she knew she would be fine, but worried about the effect the surplus process has on schoolchildren who bond with their teachers in the first couple months and then see them leave.
“We’re adult, we cope, but it’s the kids …,” she said.
But it’s not always the kids who are upset when these changes happen, said Tim Adams, principal at Martinez Elementary School.
Adams, who was hoping a teacher would select his open kindergarten slot at the downtown North Las Vegas school, said he spends a lot of time explaining the surplus process to his parents.
Given his school’s demographics and the fact there were more open jobs than teachers Thursday, Adams wasn’t hopeful a teacher would choose his job.
“I’ve spoken with a couple teachers that potentially may select me, but you just never know,” he said. “There’s no control.”
More budget cuts may be presented to the School Board on Nov. 9, once the Clark County School District staff can calculate whether the support staff reduction in force process saved enough money. No budget cuts are expected to be presented to the board at an Oct. 23 meeting, as district officials will still be calculating numbers.