Educational Editorial: Reduction In Force in schools

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The news seems to be full of reports of public employees being RIF'ed. But what does it mean and how does it work?

Each public agency must have in place a policy for "Reduction In Force." It is a method for notifying employees about cuts in programs and the elimination of positions.

In reality, how do you pick the winners and losers?

Most RIF polices in the public and private sectors are driven by one factor – seniority. Last-in-first-out.

Let's take driver education. If the school division decides that it will no longer teach driver education, driver education teachers would get a letter saying that they had been RIF'ed. If they are also endorsed and have recently taught Health and Physical Education or History, they would be given an opportunity to take the first job that opened in one of those fields...AND they have bumping "rights"…a teacher with less seniority can be "bumped" out of his or her job.

These rights apply to the entire school division.  A poor teacher can kill a program in one school and bump a successful teacher in another school…destined to kill that program as well. Clearly these policies are the enemy of performance!

In February Fairfax County government passed a new RIF policy and stated that decisions would be made both on length and quality of service.

"Last-in-first-out" approaches are easy to administer…they are devoid of tough decisions.  In a time when losing staff is inevitable, doesn't it make since to keep our very "best."

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