Mayor eases teachers' fears

June 02, 1994|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Staff Writer

Any layoffs that occur because of last-minute adjustments to the city's school-system budget will hit administrators at school headquarters, not teachers, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said today.

"We don't foresee layoffs of teachers," Mr. Schmoke said at his weekly press briefing. "Where there will be specific layoffs and decreases will be in the central office. That's going to be the focus of the budget actions for the coming year."

Late last month, Superintendent Walter G. Amprey sent a letter to all 10,000 school system employees, warning that a "considerable number" of them would be assigned or laid off by June 30. Dr. Amprey said in the letter that the actions were the result of last-minute budget adjustments and the system's efforts to move to school-based management.

The letter prompted an angry response from the Baltimore Teachers Union, which dubbed the missive a "Memorial Day massacre" and called for Dr. Amprey's resignation.

Dr. Amprey has been in Israel on a mission sponsored by the Baltimore Jewish Council and has refused to discuss his letter.

Mr. Schmoke said today it was an "unfortunate coincidence" that the letter was sent when Dr. Amprey was not available to clarify it.

"The aspect of the letter that talked about transfers and relocations is really that portion of the letter that is most applicable to teachers," the mayor said.

Mr. Schmoke's comments failed to quell the anger of the city teachers' union.

"That's what we suspected, but why send the letter?" asked union spokeswoman Linda Prudente. "We have people who are very upset. We think a lot of it is still posturing on negotiations and getting back at teachers for not supporting privatization."

Mr. Schmoke said today that the "one possibility" teachers could get laid off under Dr. Amprey's plans would be if they were in specialty fields where there were surplus teachers. But, he added, "That is really an unlikely situation."

Some bureaucrats at headquarters may be offered teaching or administrative positions at individual schools as part of the plan to move more staff and authority away from the central office, the mayor said. Others will have their positions eliminated entirely, he said.

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