Potential Changes To Durant’s Teaching Staff

Lily Belcher, Editor

For many schools, teachers and students are just getting used to balancing online and physical students. But as schedules are finally resolved, Durant may have to make more changes to their teaching staff. 

Due to the Coronavirus, people have been shopping less. Fewer purchases mean less tax revenue for the county and Hillsborough County Public Schools pays their teachers through the tax revenue, meaning the county is now $50 million in debt.  

Durant Chemistry teacher Jeffrey Henning explained the staff meeting regarding how this affects Durant.  

“What [teachers] were told was that [the Hillsborough County Public School System] has told us there’s a budget crisis, which makes sense. A lot of businesses have been closed up for six months. Our paychecks, our money, comes from tax revenue. We’re going to have to move teachers around. Now, what that means is teachers still have a contract with Hillsborough county, we still have a job… its just not where [we] wanted.” 

Schools, such as Durant, also have fewer students attending physical school (Durant is currently at 60% capacity) and consequently need fewer teachers because of the county’s new student-teacher allotment plan.  

“Some of our newer district staff members have determined that we are over allocated, so they’re using the new model to determine how many instructional staff you should have based on your enrollment,” said Principal Gary Graham. 

In the following weeks, schools that have too many teachers than needed will send teachers into “the pool.” These teachers will still have a job because they are employed by Hillsborough County, but will be moved to a different school as needed.  

The decision of which teachers to cut will be a difficult one. Graham and other administrators will look at a number of factors to determine a teacher’s future at Durant. The first thing they will look at is which classes or programs are under supported, meaning they do not have enough students to warrant a teacher or class period that could be filled by other students in another class. Then, they will consider the teacher’s scores, which are based off student pass rate and test scores, and, finally, they will look at seniority. 

Teachers that are new this year or last year do not have a teacher evaluation score. Graham explained that the rule of thumb is no score equals low score, meaning some of Durant’s new teachers could be the first to be transferred to the pool. 

If Durant cannot cut their payroll by transferring a certain number of teaching units, the next resort will be to cut support personnel, such as lunchroom staff and bus drivers. 

However, the decision of which teachers to transfer, if any, has not been made yet and Durant has been fortunate to have a few vacant teaching positions. If teachers do have to transfer to another school, Graham said “the hope is the following spring moving into the next fall, those teachers could come back.”  

While this is a stressful time for both administrators and teachers, the decisions have not been made. The only thing students and teachers can do is to be flexible with potential schedule changes and understand that the decisions are being made based on what is best for everyone in the school system.