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Performance considered in Indianapolis teacher layoffs

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The planned layoff of about 80 teachers by Indianapolis Public Schools will be among the first under a new state law that allows teacher performance to be considered in deciding who will be let go.

The layoffs are a result of the state's takeover of three high schools and a middle school because of poor student performance. The district is notifying the teachers and about 70 other workers this week about the possible layoffs, The Indianapolis Star reported Tuesday.

The layoff process, which used to rely heavily on seniority, was changed last year after the state Legislature passed a bill limiting union bargaining rights and granting greater authority to districts.

In IPS, the new layoff system awarded teachers up to 20 points based on six factors: evaluation, seniority, level of education, discipline and attendance, plus extra credit if a principal declared a teacher added extra value to the school, said Ann Wilkins, president of the district's teachers union.

The district's 2,200 teachers don't face a cutoff score for layoff, as decisions were based on what teachers were needed, district spokeswoman Mary Louise Bewley said. Teachers in high-need positions could be kept at lower scores than those in low-need positions.

"It has been a fluid process," she said.

Wilkins said teachers received midyear reviews in December that should have alerted them to any danger of layoffs.

"Everyone should have known where they stood," Wilkins said. "If they had concerns, they should have called me then."

Some teachers at the takeover schools have been offered jobs at other IPS sites, and some have accepted positions with the takeover organizations to stay with those schools next year.

Bewley said the layoffs — including among support staff and custodial and administrative workers — are largely because of the state takeovers. The district's board is expected to vote on the layoffs in late May.

The district had earlier expected that about 260 staffers would face layoffs.

"I'm glad it's not what we were projecting," Wilkins said. "We did the best we could."

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