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Second round of layoffs hits 59 city school workers

Friday layoffs bring city school cuts to more than 200 positions.

Fifty-nine Baltimore city school employees received layoff notices Friday in a second round of cutbacks imposed by the school district this week.

The move brings the number of layoffs to more than 200 — about 100 more than city schools CEO Gregory Thornton initially estimated.

On Wednesday, the district issued notifications to 159 central office employees that their positions would be eliminated; 16 employees were reassigned.

City officials called Friday's layoffs the "second phase" of the district's restructuring plan.

"As we've stated throughout this year's budget development, we worked diligently to minimize impact to schools and ensure compliance with all applicable laws, policies and contracts," officials said in a statement.

Thornton, who took over as CEO last summer, has worked to close a $108 million budget gap for the fiscal year that begins July 1. He presented his budget to the City Council this week.

Officials said "support positions" such as noninstructional assistants, hall monitors and office staff were the positions eliminated at the school level Friday.

Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, said the union is "very concerned about our members who received layoff notices today."

"We are doing all we can to ensure those affected will ultimately be rehired," English said.

Friday's layoffs came as a surprise to many in the system, including principals who were informed that they would lose staff.

"I was certainly under the impression from management that the job reductions would not impact the schools," said Jimmy Gittings, president of the city's administrator's union.

Union leaders said the central office shake-up includes dismantling the executive director structure created by former city schools CEO Andrés Alonso, who had assigned administrators to lead and support principals.

Beyond the statements, school officials and Thornton have declined requests for comment.

School system officials said that "the reorganization strategy and reduction in force are key components of our work to address the district's short and long-term budget challenges.

"We remain committed to ensuring all staff are deployed most effectively to support student achievement, and resources are being put where they are most needed — in our schools, for our students, for the long term."

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