Published Online: June 8, 2009

Arizona Teachers Recalled After April Layoffs

School districts throughout Arizona have started recalling laid-off teachers amid a clearer budget picture and the retirement of some instructors.

Districts issued reduction-in-force notices to about 7,000 teachers on April 15, according to the Arizona Education Association. Districts had to comply with the state-mandated deadline to notify teachers whose contracts wouldn't be renewed for the following year.

But many of those teachers are now being asked back.

Deer Valley Unified School District has recalled 71 of 105 teachers who received notification in April.

"We thought we had a $20 million budget shortfall, and we're anticipating it's actually going to be closer to $17.5 million," district Superintendent Virginia McElyea said, adding that the positions became available because of resignations, retirements and staff movement.

Gilbert Public Schools has rehired 130 of 267 teachers, and Peoria Unified School District is recalling 188 of the more than 300 teachers previously laid off.

Dysart Unified School District has recalled 104 of 209 laid-off teachers and Scottsdale Unified School District says it could fill 129 of the 221 positions cut in April.

The recalls have state Superintendent Tom Horne and some state legislators saying they've been vindicated; earlier this spring they said school districts were playing politics when they announced big layoff numbers in an attempt to get the Legislature to reduce education cuts.

Fountain Hills Republican Rep. John Kavanagh said the Arizona Education Association's opposition to a bill delaying the April 15 notification deadline hurt public education, and that many of the notices should never have been sent.

"The teachers used the (budget) cuts and the parents and the students as pawns in a very cynical political game and, in the end, I think they weakened public education because they scared a lot of parents into private and charter schools who may not return to the public schools," Kavanagh said.

Arizona Education Association president John Wright defended teacher layoffs and opposition to delaying layoff notices.

"People wanted to know whether or not they were going to at least have to consider making alternative plans for their careers and their work schedules," Wright said.

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