LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A decline in enrollment among secondary schools in the Little Rock School District left some teachers confused for weeks about the next steps.
The school board met Thursday night to discuss an ‘overstaffing’ issue with not enough students to bring in the funding.
Back in December, Superintendent Jermall Wright sent an email to secondary school principals in the district warning there could be changes to staffing based on enrollment declining and funding going down as a result. The email said the schools were “WAY overstaffed.”
Wright added the district would not be able to achieve the last step for teacher raises or allocate much-needed fiscal and human resources to our identified district priorities without “eliminating excess teacher units.”
“Those in the know expressed concern about the language or confusion about it,” said Leron McAdoo, a teacher at Central High School.
McAdoo said it was unclear to some teachers if this meant there could be cuts or if they would be relocated to other campuses.
The board decided Thursday night to eventually relocate some teachers from one secondary school campus in the district to another based on staffing and enrollment. Member Joyce Wesley said this would transfer some teachers at the more overstaffed campuses with lower enrollment to other campuses needing specific teachers to divide up more courses.
“It’s not about how many teachers can we get rid of, it’s looking at our current load and making sure it’s even, we have enough teachers in every building,” she said.
McAdoo said as a teacher who has been in the LRSD for more than 30 years, his concern was not his job security within the district but the reality of there being question marks for teachers regarding the future of their jobs that he knows are essential.
“I’m not fearful for my job, but I am fearful that there is a climate of disrespecting teachers or devaluing teachers,” he said.
The district will determine who would potentially need to move campuses based on enrollment projections, course selections and master scheduling for students. Wright said the district hopes to have teacher contracts for the 2023-2024 school year sent out before spring break.
In his email to principals last month, he specifically asked leaders to be “district minded” and not just concerned about their own school.