Layoffs in central office begin today, will reach nearly 1,000 by end of summer

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Heads are starting to roll at 125 S Clark St.

Following weeks of speculation, about 550 administrative staff were slated to receive pink slips this week. From what we are hearing now from sources, secretaries and support services personnel, such as professional development staffers, are getting the ax first.

Cuts are also being made in the human resources and information technology departments. Together, these departments currently have more than 440 employees.

Another 450 cuts will be made over the summer—some during the school year itself.

Heads are starting to roll at 125 S. Clark St.

Following weeks of speculation, about 550 administrative staff were slated to receive pink slips this week. From what we are hearing now from sources, secretaries and support services personnel, such as professional development staffers, are getting the ax first.

Cuts are also being made in the human resources and information technology departments. Together, these departments currently have more than 440 employees.

Another 450 cuts will be made over the summer—some during the school year itself.

Monique Bond, director of communications, reiterated that the layoffs are not touching classrooms. But the district faces a $475 million—and growing—budget deficit, and for the first time, Bonds admitted that it is becoming harder to keep the cuts from affecting education.

“It is a tough and challenging time,” Bond says. “We are trying to close the gap without compromising instruction.”

Bond could not provide a list of layoffs for each department, citing a restructuring now taking place throughout the central office and administrative ranks. “It would not be comparing apples to apples,” she says.

As one might expect, the mood at central office is dreary. One staffer who spoke on the condition of anonymity notes that employees are finding cause for celebration when they are invited to a meeting scheduled for next week—a signal that they will keep their jobs for at least that long.

As part of the restructuring, many of the human resources positions that were part of the human resources department will become part of a new “human capital” department. Chief Financial Officer Pedro Martinez says cuts and reorganizing have yet to be finalized.

One major area where reorganization is being mixed with layoffs is the area offices. Existing area instructional officers now must reapply for new, yet similar, positions renamed “chief area officer.” Other staffers in the offices also are in limbo.

Martinez says staffing at the offices will probably fall, from an average of seven to eight workers to perhaps six, including a data analyst and two or three instructional coaches. He also expects most of the area-level “management support directors,” who help schools work out busing schedules and other logistics, to be retained.

But Martinez cautions that the area restructuring is largely based on guesswork, as district leaders hope to empower the new offices to make their own hiring decisions.

Martinez also confirmed that the district is seeking to cut $10 million from its student busing program, perhaps as many as 400 buses out of some 2,000. Chester Tindall, the general manager of the busing department, expects to find more efficient routing to cover the cuts.