School year in Pittsburgh starts with the shuffling of employees
August 30, 2012 8:00 AM
Nina Sacco, left, principal at Perry High School, listens to Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent Linda Lane after a 9th Grade Nation assembly Wednesday at the high school. 9th Grade Nation is a half-day program that brings freshmen into school a day early to help them transition into a new school and provides them an opportunity to receive their schedules and meet their teachers.
By Eleanor Chute Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Students in Pittsburgh Public Schools will see a lot of new faces when classes begin this week.
About a third of last year's school-based workforce in city school district has been furloughed, reassigned to a different school, retired or resigned.
The school board last week approved the latest changes that call for transferring 611 salaried school-based employees from one position or school to another, including more than 400 K-12 teachers.
The transfers also include social workers, counselors, adjunct teachers, secretaries and data specialists, technical-clerical staff, paraprofessionals, pre-K staff and school-based administrators.
PG graphic: Pittsburgh Public Schools employees (Click image for larger version)
Overall, the transfers amount to about 1 in 5 of all remaining school-based employees.
Despite the changes, school superintendent Linda Lane, who sent a video message to teachers, said: "I'm asking everybody to be all in. We want people to be all in. Our kids deserve it, and we know if we can work together and be fully committed, we can be successful."
She said principals will be working to build the connection between schools and parents, businesses and the neighborhoods.
She said they also will be working to build effective teams of teachers.
"One of the powerful things about teachers working together is forming professional learning communities," Ms. Lane said.
School started Wednesday for ninth-graders and today for grades 1-12. The first day for kindergarten is Wednesday.
As a result of cost-cutting moves, the district now has 2,970 school-based employees, a reduction of 510 from the 3,480 of last school year.
When it comes to K-12 classroom teachers, the number has fallen to 1,597, compared to 1,890 last school year, a drop of 293.
Last month, the board voted to furlough 280 school-based employees -- including 176 K-12 teachers and other professionals, 14 pre-K teachers, 59 paraprofessionals, 12 adjuncts, 10 other pre-K professionals and nine technical-clerical workers.
The teacher furloughs were based on system seniority and certification.
However, the numbers are a moving target as resignations and retirements continue. At this month's meeting, more than a dozen teachers who were on last month's furlough list were placed in schools.
The bulk of the transfers among schools are K-12 teachers.
At Pittsburgh Brashear High School in Beechview, 13 teachers who taught there last school year now have been assigned to 10 different schools.
At the same time, 25 teachers from 11 schools and central office have been assigned to Brashear, some coming from the same schools that former Brashear teachers are going to.
While system seniority and certification govern whether a teacher has a job, where the teacher is placed typically depends on building seniority. In some cases, such as the staffing of Langley, applicants are considered competitively.
Of course, an English teacher can't bump a math teacher. But an English teacher with a lot of system seniority, who has the least seniority in a building where an English position is being cut, can bump an English teacher in a building where the least senior person also has little system seniority.
Aside from schools where all teachers are leaving because the schools closed, some of the biggest turnovers -- in addition to Brashear -- in full-time teachers are in Pittsburgh Allderdice High School, where eight teachers are transferring out and 15 are transferring in.
Schools with larger numbers of incoming teachers typically are those that had least senior teachers who were furloughed or had teachers who retired or resigned. Last month's furlough list included 14 teachers at Faison, 11 at Milliones and nine at Westinghouse.
• Pittsburgh Carrick High School, where 12 teachers are transferring out and 13 are transferring in
• Pittsburgh Faison K-5, where five teachers are transferring out and 15 are transferring in
• Pittsburgh King PreK-8, where nine teachers are transferring out and 16 are transferring in
• Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12, where 12 of last year's teachers will be teaching elsewhere while 19 are coming from other schools
• Pittsburgh Obama 6-12 has five transferring out and 10 transferring in.
• Pittsburgh Perry High School, which is absorbing students from the closed Pittsburgh Oliver High School, had just one teacher transfer out but 18 are transferring in.
• Pittsburgh Westinghouse 6-12, where five teachers are transferring out and 13 are transferring in
This fall, district officials have pledged that every school will have art, music, physical education and a librarian.
That doesn't mean they'll have them every day. Some librarians, for example, are assigned to five different schools, one a day.
Some of the transfers also reflect a change in the use of academic coaches who previously were assigned from central office. They have been reassigned to the classroom.
Instead, a related role will be filled by the ITL2 -- instructional teacher leader 2 -- which is a career ladder position in school buildings that was competitively filled earlier.