Crusader staff report
Fifty teachers in the Gary School District have been given layoff notices as the state prepares to reposition the troubled school system for the new school year.
Teachers and parents fear the move will be one of many the state will make to turn around a school district that’s been mired in debt and internal strife.
GlenEva Dunham, president of the Gary Teachers Union, said Jack Martin, the district’s state-appointed financial manager, sent layoff notices to 50 teachers two weeks ago. In one news report Martin said the 46 teachers were given layoff notices and that a reduction in staff was necessary to cut costs for the upcoming school years. Without the layoffs, Martin said the state’s Distressed Unit Appeals Board (DUAB) won’t give the district any money.
Dunham criticized the move, saying the teachers are needed because dozens more are retiring this year.
“They’re just looking at the numbers,” she said. Dunham said the layoffs would disrupt the first week of the new school year when there won’t be enough teachers.
When asked about the layoffs, Martin referred the Crusader to the district’s human resources department, which was closed at the time. .
Dunham said the teachers who received the layoff notices could appeal the decision June 5, but they face an uphill battle considering the district’s financial problems,
On May 23, Martin told the school board that he anticipated a $1.5 million loan that covered the payroll for Friday, May 26. The DUAB has covered the district’s payroll several times in the past three months. Martin will travel to Indianapolis to ask the state to cover the district’s June 9 payroll as well.
Previously Martin had requested $12 million from the state to cover payroll and vendor bills for the rest of the school year.
The state appointed Martin in 2015 to help turn the district’s financial situation around. Under his leadership, the district has taken out several loans to stay afloat. In 2015, the state granted the Gary Community School Corporation a $15 million loan, but that amount was just enough to keep schools open for the rest of the year.
Martin oversees spending in the district until the state appoints a new emergency manager who will have both financial and academic control over Gary Schools. The new emergency manager is likely to be named next month, according to one news report.
Last month, retired state Senator Earline Rogers and Gary attorney Clorius Lay were appointed to the fiscal management board that will advise the emergency manager on decisions relating to Gary Schools. Two more appointees have yet to be named, but school board members cannot serve on the advisory board.
Anxieties and emotions were already running high in the Gary School district, where parents and teachers remain concerned about the future of thousands of students who are in enrolled in the public school system.
With $103 million in debt, Governor Eric Holcomb last month approved legislation that allowed the state to take full control of Gary Schools.