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Seniority-Based Layoffs Will Exacerbate Job Loss in Public Education

K-12 school districts that lay off personnel according to seniority cause disproportionate damage to their programs and students than if layoffs were determined on a seniority-neutral basis.

School districts face severe budget challenges with state funding at risk in this perilous economy. In this four-page analysis of K-12 district layoff issues, Marguerite Roza, a senior scholar at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, calculates that if a district is required to use layoffs to cut its budget by 10 percent and cuts the most junior employees, it will need to axe 14.3 percent of its workforce (including teachers) to meet the 10 percent budget reduction.

On the other hand, if that district followed a seniority-neutral layoff policy—say by a standard of employee effectiveness—only 10 percent of the workforce would lose their jobs. Nationwide, if all districts followed a seniority-neutral layoff policy to save 10 percent, 612,256 jobs would be lost compared with 874,623 lost under a seniority-based policy.

This Rapid Response analysis is the first in the Schools in Crisis: Making Ends Meet series.


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