All Dothan City Schools workers laid off earlier this year who indicated a desire to return have been rehired, according to the system’s interim personnel manager.

Retirements and resignations have opened up positions for all Dothan City School employees who stated a desire to remain employed with the district.

The school board declared a reduction in workforce (RIF) in February during a review of the system’s needs after deciding to close four schools. Superintendent Phyllis Edwards estimated that 47 to 69 support staff positions would be subject to downsizing.

By the time the list of names came before the board in April, the RIF list shortened significantly to include names of 15 special education teaching aides, whose dismissals were scheduled to take effect on May 24.

Under the law guiding the RIF process, employees were notified and given the opportunity to tell the system they wished to be brought back if openings occurred in the form of a letter. The human resources department received letters from 12 staff members.

“All that indicated they wanted to be re-employed have been brought back,” said interim personnel director Dennis Coe.

Five staff members were recalled before the discharges took effect. All other eligible members were approved by the school board by the July 29 called board meeting.

Dothan City Schools had 39 non-renewals of teacher contracts that expired on May 24, 2019.

Coe said there are a number of reasons that a system could chose to not renew a teacher’s contract. Many positions were on a probationary basis or were temporary, made possible only through state and other funding sources. Some positions were created only for the 2018-2019 school year in an effort to reduce classroom sizes.

Some positions were lost due to a decrease in foundation funding for the state. Between the 2018 school year to the start of the 2019 school year, DCS lost about 100 students, according to data from the Alabama State Department of Education. Accordingly, the system lost funding for seven teachers.

The system has also created several new positions for counselors, reading aides, assistant principals, and foreign language teachers for elementary schools.

Notably, Dothan City Schools has had more hires than usual this summer because of high rate of teacher turnover.

“We have seen a slight increase in the number of new teachers in this year, but the numbers are comparable to other surrounding districts,” Coe said.

High numbers of resignations are indicative of a national teacher shortage.

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