Gilbert Public Schools explains layoffs at board meeting

Shane McCord
Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Shane McCord apologizes to district teachers whose jobs were eliminated after this school year for the manner in which they were given the news. (Screen shot from YouTube)

Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Shane McCord apologizes to district teachers whose jobs were eliminated after this school year for the manner in which they were given the news. (Screen shot from YouTube)

Gilbert Public Schools’ governing board unanimously affirmed the layoff of 152 certified staff members at its March 30 meeting, four days after the employees heard the news.

Administrators cited the district’s large enrollment loss during the pandemic for the layoff. The district lost 1,644 students from the 100th day of school in 2020 to the 100th day in 2021 and projects another loss of 400 students for next year.

Enrollment-related numbers drive the state’s funding formula, and GPS projects a $10.22 million reduction in its maintenance and operations budget from this fiscal year to next, Business Services Assistant Superintendent Bonnie Betz said. That budget pays for most district salaries.

Superintendent Shane McCord apologized to the teachers affected by the reduction in force, or RIF, for the way the news was delivered March 26. The teachers were called into a meeting that day in which their principal read from a script and did not answer questions. McCord said that was on advice of the district’s attorney.

“The message that was delivered was cold and sterile, and that was never the intention, but nonetheless that was how it was given and how it was received,” he said.


Talent Management Assistant Superintendent Shawn McIntosh explained at the meeting how the staff members were chosen for layoff.

McIntosh said the district developed a rubric from three guidelines:

  • qualifications and certification of staff members to accomplish the district's educational program, including certification requirements for specialty categories and designation as a highly qualified teacher;

  • overall teaching experience, academic training, ability and performance; and

  • contributions to the educational program of the district.


For the rubric, the district had five criteria for elementary school teachers to be scored and seven for secondary school teachers, McIntosh said. The district’s principals did the scoring, which gave a teacher three points when judged highly effective in an area, two points if effective and no points if ineffective.

When scores were turned back into the staffing committee, it figured what score would be the cutoff point that would achieve the necessary reduction, McIntosh said.

Administrators said the low enrollments this year left the district overstaffed, and the RIF was necessary to staff the district appropriately going forward.

Betz said that contrasted from its 2009 RIF, when GPS laid off 267 teachers in the wake of the Great Recession. Betz said at that time the state did not have enough money to fully fund education.

Also different from 2009 was seniority and tenure were not considered for this layoff because of state law changes after those layoffs.

The board received 45 submitted comments about the RIF and an additional 19 people spoke during the public comment period, mostly about the layoffs.

Several of the speakers urged that the district table the RIF until the district could get a better picture of what the latest federal stimulus passed this month would bring to the district. The governing board also was criticized for its actions and lack of creativity in solving the funding issue.

“We apologize we are at this point, but we are,” President Charles Santa Cruz said.
By Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


MOST RECENT

Gilbert Public Schools
Gilbert Public Schools employees to get 2% raises, 3% stipends

The Gilbert Public Schools governing board approved giving most of its employees a 3% stipend next school year, in addition to 2% raises, in an effort to stay competitive on salaries.

Batch Cookie Shop
Batch Cookie Shop opens in Gilbert's City Gate

The family-owned shop makes gourmet cookies

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
Federal health authorities recommend pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 6 rare, severe blood clots

After six reported cases of a rare and severe blood clot in patients who received the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration are recommending a pause on administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

See a breakdown of COVID-19 cases, vaccinations and more local data. (Community Impact staff)
COVID-19: See cases, vaccinations by ZIP code in Gilbert

Here are the COVID-19 data updates to know today.

Here are the coronavirus hospitalization data updates to know across Arizona. (Community Impact staff)
ADHS: ICU beds in use down to 148 April 11

See the latest COVID-19 hospitalization data.

Gilbert real estate data
Available homes on Gilbert market down sharply in February

Here is what you need to know about Gilbert's residential real estate market from February 2021.

Here are two salons that have opened or changed locations recently in Gilbert. (Courtesy Madison Reed)
Two salon changes to know in Gilbert

Here are two salons that have opened or changed locations recently in Gilbert.

Salt Tacos y Tequila, SanTan Village
Salt Tacos y Tequila to open at SanTan Village in 2021

The restaurant’s first location is in the Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale.

Co-owners Jalon and Carolina Buckstead each have prior experience in restaurants. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gilbert's Rocky Point Seafood focuses on authenticity; Chandler USD selects interim leader and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Gilbert and Chandler areas.

Lindsay Road
Lindsay Road restrictions at Loop 202-Santan Freeway will last into 2022

Traffic on Lindsay Road will continue to be one lane each direction for the duration of the Lindsay Road traffic interchange project at the Loop 202-Santan Freeway.

The state-run vaccination site at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, which has administered nearly 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, will relocate April 12 to Desert Financial Arena on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. (Courtesy Arizona Department of Health Services)
Phoenix Municipal Stadium vaccination site to move indoors to ASU's Desert Financial Arena

The state-run vaccination site at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, which has administered nearly 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, will relocate April 12 to Desert Financial Arena on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus,

Maricopa County residents have received over 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, according to an April 7 update from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Nearly 40% of all Maricopa County adults have received at least one dose of vaccine

Maricopa County residents have received over 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, according to an April 7 update from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.