Merrimack adopts points system for teacher layoffs
MERRIMACK - The school district's reduction-in-force policy has been revamped with a sidebar to assess teachers' stature on a points-based system, taking into account education, tenure and experience in the district.
"It gives transparency to both the administration and teaching staff, with a formula-driven structure," said school board member Shannon Barnes at last week's meeting.
Under the new policy, which was approved by the Merrimack Teachers Association and the school board, teachers will receive points based on the degrees held and any additional credits earned. Points will also be awarded to teachers who have tenure, and for years of experience in the district.
Barnes - who spearheaded the effort in negotiations with the MTA - said teachers will know based on their years of service and academic preparation where they rank among their peers.
"You can very formulaically understand where you fall in the grand scheme of things, and it doesn't take one area over the other. It hybrids them, so you have a balance," she said.
"So you can, as a teacher, say I've been in the district six years, I have a bachelor's and 12 additional credits, and I have tenure."
Tenure will give 10 points, the bachelor's degree and 12 credits will give nine points, and six years in the district gives six points.
The sidebar updates an evaluation system that was based previously on tenure before being updated in compliance with state law to include academic performance.
A teacher's points could be significant if the teaching force is reduced due to declining enrollments, for example, in which case teachers with the fewest points would be laid off first.
In cases of ties, tiebreakers will come into play. The teacher with a greater level of education comes out ahead, and if education is equal, seniority is the deciding factor - whoever joined the district first, if only by a day, will take precedence.
Superintendent Marge Chiafery said that if reduction-in-force needs to be invoked, she meets with every affected teacher face to face before the budget goes to the board.
"If I have to do reduction-in-force, I would look to this model to assist me right now," Chiafery said.
"I need the system in place because I have to see people the week of the 26th of November in order to be able to do it."
The initiative passed unanimously, with Chairman Christopher Ortega recusing himself because his wife is an educator in the district.
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