Teachers union trying to minimize historic job cuts at Davenport Schools

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Historic job cuts scheduled for Davenport schools has dozens of teachers on edge. 

School board members voted last week to cut 83 staff positions. 

The president of the teachers union tells us she doesn’t think the district has ever had that many layoffs. 

Now, she says her group is trying to make sure that number doesn’t become a reality.

“We didn’t really see this coming, they were talking about a five-year budget with slow reductions,” says Cari Johnson, president of the Davenport Education Association. 

But the board’s original budget plan wasn’t enough for Iowa’s School Budget Review Committee.

So, school board members voted on a new strategy, increasing next year’s cuts from six full time certified staff members to 83.

“It was pretty devastating for teachers,” Johnson says. 

One week later, she says the education association is working to nudge that number.

“I’m still hoping we can reduce that 83, that early retirements and then not filling certain positions will reduce that number drastically and then maybe some other savings.” 

It’s a strategy one grandparent advocates. 

“I would look for every way to cut a budget as far as any kind of overhead expense. Not in the overhead expense of people,” says Harlan Schadt, a Davenport schools grandparent.

He’s worried about what staff cuts would look like for his five grandchildren in the district.

“It means that it could be larger classrooms, less attention, personal attention and I think that personal attention is very important,” Schadt says. 

Johnson says while her group is working to minimize cuts, she also recognizes the reality.

“83 is the number on paper and from past years that would be a large number of teachers to retire or early retire in one year, so it’s not going to reach that number.” 

Those retirement numbers have to be in by January. 

Johnson says that’s when they’ll know for sure how many teachers they’ll have to let go.

But for now, she’s trying to provide comfort in the classrooms.

“We’re advocating for [teachers], we’re working on this and we’re trying to minimize the blow as much as possible,” Johnson says. 

District members are set for another hearing in front of the SBRC next week.

All pink slips must legally be given to teachers by April 30th.

The  layoffs for next school year are expected to save the Davenport School District more than $13 million. 

The district has to make up  more than $30 million over the next five years.

It’s been operating in the red for three years in a row. 
 

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