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The May 1st Dilemma: Non-Renewal vs. Layoff

Typically this time of year school district administrators ponder whether to “non-renew” non-tenured teachers in response to budget uncertainty, as opposed to waiting for the fiscal picture to become clear and possibly laying off teachers at a later time.  Given the state budget crisis, and unprecedented major cuts in funding on the table, the uncertainty is worse this year than ever before.  This has caused even superintendents and other administrators who previously were not inclined to non-renew teachers for economic reasons, to give serious consideration to doing so.

So what are the advantages and disadvantages of non-renewal relative to laying off non-tenured teachers?  If a teacher is non-renewed for economic reasons pursuant to C.G.S. Section 10-151(c), he/she has no recall rights and no right to a hearing before the Board of Education.  Moreover, if after the budget is settled the district decides to continue the employment of some but not all non-renewed teachers, it can pick and choose to whom it decides to offer reinstatement, thereby, enabling it to select the best and brightest.

On the other hand, if a district forgoes non-renewal, and then has to layoff teachers, those teachers will have recall rights under the collective bargaining agreement (typically based on certification and seniority), and have the ability to grieve their layoff if they believe the contract was not followed.  While the district loses the ability to pick and choose who it returns to work, this approach has the benefit of allowing the district to wait until the last possible moment before laying off staff, and avoids creating uncertainty and angst for newer teachers who may choose to pursue “greener pastures” once they are non-renewed.