Dayton school board votes 4-3 to approve 241 layoffs, furloughs

Teachers, drivers, administrators all on list; most positions will be restored when online learning ends

Dayton’s school board approved 241 layoffs and furloughs Friday, affecting teachers, bus drivers, clerical staff, school nurses, assistant principals and others.

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The votes on all three layoff resolutions were 4-3. The four board members elected in 2017 voted yes on all cuts — Mohamed Al-Hamdani, Jocelyn Rhynard, William Harris and Karen Wick-Gagnet. The three board members elected in 2019 — Gabriela Pickett, Dion Sampson and Will Smith — voted against all three sets of staffing cuts.

First was an unpaid temporary reduction in force of 114 teachers union members, to last through the current remote learning period, which the district has committed to through at least the first quarter that ends Nov. 6, as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect the community. The layoffs are effective Sept. 14.

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The temporary RIF list includes teachers in nearly every area, but heaviest in music (20), art (17), preschool (16) and physical education (14). The list also includes 22 school nurses, plus a few counselors, library specialists and others.

DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said the district is doing the layoffs in areas that don’t work well with online learning. She said there will be recorded lessons for students to watch in the areas of art, music and physical education, but she said the hands-on aspect of those subjects don’t work well online.

Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, confirmed that no other greater Dayton area school district has done significant layoffs due to online education this fall.

Dayton teachers union President David Romick said his organization’s focus is on “how these reductions affect student learning conditions.”

“We will take the weekend to thoroughly evaluate today’s board actions and comments and have a more comprehensive statement early next week,” Romick said.

The second resolution called for a temporary furlough of 56 bus drivers and 46 clerical staff, also through the remote learning period. Those layoffs are effective Sept. 8.

Both of the first two resolutions include memorandums of understanding with the employees’ unions. The MOUs say the temporary RIFs and furloughs are without pay, but the employees can use any accumulated paid vacation and personal leave days if they wish.

The MOUs say the district will not contest any of these employees’ applications for unemployment compensation during the furlough or temporary layoff.

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The MOUs also say the furloughed employees can continue their medical and dental insurance during the furloughs, and the school board will pay 100% of the premium, rather than the normal amount, which is about 85%. The MOU says furloughed employees will be restored to employment when the remote learning period ends.

The third resolution calls for a reduction in force due to “organizational restructuring, lack of work, and financial reasons.” That layoff affects 25 administrators and district support staff, including 15 assistant principals. Those layoffs are effective Sept. 11.

Lolli said during the meeting that those layoffs are also temporary. The language of the resolution says nothing about those moves being temporary, and in fact says the employees’ positions will be abolished.

The school board also voted 5-1-1 Friday night to allow fall sport athletes to resume practices and conditioning. Harris opposed the move, and Pickett abstained.

The school district had halted fall sports and extracurricular activities after Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County made that recommendation on July 31.

School board President Al-Hamdani said the board would need to pass a resolution to approve formal competitions at a board meeting in September. Meetings are currently scheduled for Sept. 8 and Sept. 15.

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