DISD Trustee Flores On Why Paying Teachers $10,000 to Leave Is Ultimately a Real Bargain

eflores12.jpg
Edwin Flores
Had a long talk with Dallas Independent School District trustee Edwin Flores today about a lot of things, some of which I'll get to tomorrow. But before tonight's board meeting, I figured it was worth sharing at least this one thing -- our chat about the proposal to pay the first 1,000 full-timers who sign up no more than $10,000 to leave early, pending the layoffs expected courtesy the state's $27 billion shortfall that'll gut funding for public education.

I asked the District 1 rep -- who's holding a budget town hall at E.D. Walker Middle School at 6:30 p.m. on March 3, mark it down -- how he plans to vote on the proposal. He said he didn't know yet. " I want to hear more," he said. (Update: The trustees votes to approve the deal, 8-1, but reduced the amount to $7 million total and changed the deadline to March 8.)

"This is a fact I do know, though: To dismiss or non-renew a teacher costs us $30,000 to $50,000 in legal fees," he says. "They're entitled under Chapter 21 of the Education Code to a notice of a hearing, which takes place in front of a certified independent hearing examiner. It's a mini-trial on why they should be terminated. They get to bring a lawyer, we get to bring a lawyer. They get to take a deposition, we get to take a deposition. And the hearings last two, three days. And we pay the examiner by the hour, and their decisions can run anywhere from 20, 30 to 50 pages. These things get out of control quickly, and then there's a hearing before the board. The lawyers have to get ready, and then they have to argue their case, and the trustees can give them their job back.

"Now multiply that by 1,000. Do the math. This is the system the state set up. So if you ask me, as a taxpayer, which one works better, it seems to me no issue. You have a signed release and the promise of up to $10,000 versus guaranteed $30,000 to $50,000. So to me, on its face, it's not illogical. The problem is people say, 'That's crazy, no one else is doing it.' ... I understand why people are sticker-shocked, but when you know what I know -- which is that these cost $30,000 to settle, because there's no guarantee of a win -- this is at least a third of that. This say it's a signed agreement and everyone walks away."

I asked Flores the same thing I asked DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander two days ago: Why would the district puts its future in the hands of its employees and risk letting some of its best teachers take the money and run? At which point Flores brought up his proposal to change the district's reduction-in-force policy. Which I'll get to tomorrow, because he's providing docs -- which, believe it or not, he wants feedback on.

Anyway.

This, ultimately, was his response to that question.

"We lose 30 teachers a week, about," he says. "Between 20 and 30 a week. I had one leave W.T. White last week who wants to get their Ph D. Or they leave because they're having a baby. Or they're moving out of town because their husband or wife got a job. Or they hate their principal. The system is so big when you're dealing with 11,000 teachers, your weekly turnover is enormous. Last time, in 2008, after all those layoffs, within 10 weeks there were 300 openings. If you worry about the one or the two you won't do anything. You'd be so shell-shocked you won't move forward. Is it possible we'll lose great teachers. Yeah. And some bad teachers. Probably.

"But if they sign this, they'll agree not to file for unemployment. That's part of the deal. So it's focused more on retiring, and if I'm a young teacher, I am like, 'Thank you.' Because they're making a spot for the younger teachers."

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Ed D.
Ed D.

$10K and no unemployment? The only ones who will go for this are the best teachers who know they can hire on in another district or with a private school. The truly bad teachers will hang on as long as they can, especially now that they now how expensive it is to get rid of them. (Um, unless they're really bad at math, of course.)

RS1963
RS1963

At least Flores has some numbers to throw out there - real or not. What bothered me about the original announcement was they (I believe it was Dahlander) said they didn't know what the final $$$ would be, how the whole thing would work out.

Any business of a decent size can tell you exactly a cost/benefit analysis of practically any decision they make. Is there no one in the district's financial office that can run real numbers on this? Did they just make up this $10K out of thin air?

And why are other districts offering $1K and Dallas is $10K? Are they that stupid and we're that smart?

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

Flores says: "So if you ask me, as a taxpayer, which one works better, it seems to me no issue. You have a signed release and the promise of up to $10,000 versus guaranteed $30,000 to $50,000."

If I were heading up one of the teachers' unions, I'd go before the Board and say: Your man Flores says it will cost between $30,000 and $50,000 per teacher to fire them. Let's say the average is $40,000. If you don't pay each and every fired teacher $35,000, you are going to have 3000 hearings to deal with.

First, Hiney comes out and announces that classroom size is going to skyrocket to 60 kids per class. This makes every good teacher in the district update their resumes to get the heck out of dodge.

Now Flores (an attorney to boot), goes public an announces 1) the litigation costs of terminating teachers and 2) his willingness to pay nuisance costs to get rid of potential suits. Gee, I wonder if their will be a rash of teachers contesting their termination.

It is unbelievable that these two keystone cops are responsible for managing a billion dollar entity.

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

Does Flores realize that he has just proven that the DISD cannot afford Hiney's "New Reality." Someone in the media, please call Flores out on this.

According to Hiney, the DISD needs to lose 3000 teachers in the "New Reality."

According to Flores who tells us ("when you know what I know"), litigation costs for terminating a teacher range from $30,000 to $50,000. Losing 3000 teachers means that the actual cost Hiney's "New Reality" is between $90,000,000 and $150,000,000! With an anticipated shortfall of $250 million, there is no way the DISD can afford to lose another $90,000,000 to $150,000,000 on top of that. And don't forget that on top of all of this, the DISD is going to have to spend additional millions reconstructing classrooms that were desinged to hold 25-30 children into ones that hold 50-60.

It seems Hiney needs to go back to the drawing board to come up with a New New Reality that keeps the DISD from being crippled by litigation costs in firing 3000 teachers. My suggestion is that he start with scrapping construction of new schools and lopping off the administration monster.

BTW, are the Teach for America people eligible for this hearing that Flores says costs $30K-$50K? If not, start the firings with them.

anonono
anonono

Its my understanding that the TFA teachers were hired with stimulus money and will not be retained next year and it was stated as such in their hire documents although DISD didnt publish that fact. Am I wrong Jon Dahlander????

Amy S.
Amy S.

DISD Teacher, I know you wouldn't post gag, quite honestly I have thick skin from growing up in Michigan.

Here's my business owner perspective. I just gave a manager a raise. After a year when we lost money, negative, in the red, business down in our sector of the industry. Did I want to do it? No. Did I have to do it? Yes. Because the role this person plays in our business increases the stability of our organization and to lose that person would mean a period of time where we would spend MORE trying to replace him/her. And during that crucial 6 months of getting someone new up and on board, we would be doing a less than perfect job for those we serve.

I mean, there's other markets for this person to work in, and they are doing a great job. Obviously a raise, even in these tough times indicates to the person that what they are doing is valuable to us. Our other option was for that person to quit.

Maybe you don't agree, but I don't think it would be any different with another leader of the district. In fact, we've seen much worse leadership in the past.

Here's what really pisses me off. Austin LOVES this. We are busy fighting among ourselves when all the problems with the financing of our schools begins THERE. What happened to the revised business tax? Ours went from zero to eight thousand dollars (and our property taxes were not reduced - the appraisal of the office building we're located in went up). What part of the mathematical formula that they proposed FAILED? I know quite a few teachers in DISD, if given the equation the Brainiac State Legislature suggested, who could come up with the answer. And they don't even teach math, they're that smart.

But our state officials are probably just hoping to get through their little Part-Time Tour of Duty, leaving this problem for the next two years.

Protesting the district is only going to make small changes - we need Austin to shape up or ship out. Maybe it's time for them to work full-time at running this state.

mmacnaughton
mmacnaughton

So by Edwin's count if we lose 25 teachers per week, 100 per month, then we should lose about 1000 per school year. The school year is almost over. There is, supposedly, a hiring freeze. Sooooo, aren't we at almost at 1,000 teachers who have left the system this year so far and haven't cost the district a nickle?

Amy S.
Amy S.

@DISD Teacher - Weren't you the one railing about fees paid to "consultants"? WTF? Is everything DISD does "bad" to you? Hate can be tiring, you must be worn out every day.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

@Amy,I do rail against consultant fees bc I see so many kids who need so much help while the money taxpayers dutifully pay is wasted.

I also am NOT the person who posted "gag" in response to you.

I like your creative description that includes knowing the floorplan and the dog's name. That's a great way to sort "aquaintances" from "friends".

Honestly, I appreciate your perspective and from your posts, I assumed you must know him very well and I just wondered how you felt about the $77,000 raises he gave. I also respect every DISD parent who gets in there and tries to make DISD better--your work benefits people with kids and those without kids. It makes our big city more of a small community.

And you're right that "hate" is tiring, but I don't mean to seem hateful. I mean to seem honest. And our school board is honestly allowing millions to be wasted for reasons that have nothing to do with the innocent kids sitting in DISD classrooms.

It IS tiring to speak out continually against waste, fraud, nepotism, cronyism on while also trying to lift kids up every day. I hate being negative, but if teachers like me don't sound the alarm, who will?

I frankly can find no way to excuse $77,000 worth of raises for a couple of people when everyone--including the dog they got at the fundraiser--knew the cuts were coming.

I respect your perspective; that's just mine.

Amy S.
Amy S.

@ DISD Teacher - Personal friend is a bit strong, he was my son's summer baseball coach. Two years ago. I found him to be honest, and straightforward, and I especially appreciated that he was unafraid of saying "No" to people if it was what he believed was in the best interest of the children of DISD. We now have kids in different grades at the same school, but Fan of the Man is more like the description of what I am.

Personal friend would indicate that I know the layout of their house, at least. Or that I talk to them occassionally. Or what they named that dog they bought at the fundraiser. Or that we know each others cell phone numbers. Hardly. He probably remembers me as the mom who talked through every at-bat her son had.

DISD Teacher, I have spent hundreds of unpaid hours working to better DISD schools and children. I put my name against what I say above. I find him to be honest and honorable and trying to straighten out a district that was in FAR WORSE SHAPE when he arrived.

P-farmer
P-farmer

Then how can you not see that he is in Lowe's sphere?

Jimmy Miller
Jimmy Miller

The system needs to be changed to allow DISD to hire and fire at will just like the private sector.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

So we're going to spend 10mill to get rid of 1000 teachers.

But Hinojosa's New Reality (which includes a mere 800 central office cuts) says we need to cut 3000 teachers.

So we'll still have 2000 teachers filing lawsuits and grievances.

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

"So we'll still have 2000 teachers filing lawsuits and grievances."

When one factors in Flores' cost numbers, that comes out to a cost of between $60,000,000 and $90,000,000 to the DISD.

Montemalone
Montemalone

How many trustees can we get to quit for 10 grand?

Amy S.
Amy S.

It certainly sounds like one way to cut consultant and administrative costs. The teachers only have to take it if they want to take it.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

How do you, as a self-described personal friend of Hinojosa's, feel about him asking for $77,000 in raises for a couple of administrators in December when he knew--as we all did--that these cuts were coming?

I'm not trying to be snarky at all; my question is seriously posed.

LaceyB
LaceyB

It costs them 10k to let go a of a teacher making, oh, 60k, that they won't have to fire or retain. Then, they hire a new teacher (assuming the person is credentialed, which, is not always the case), for 40k.

Net profit for board raises, ahem, to use in schools/budget: 10k.

And the quality goes down, for the most part, considered by board members as an asset.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

"They get to being lawyer, we get to bring a lawyer. They get to take deposition, they get to take deposition."

Please tell me that's full of typing errors and he's more well-spoken than that, but it would be fitting of DISD if that is verbatim.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Yes -- I hit publish a moment too soon without realizing it. Sorry. I am a terrible transcriber.

And: I'm a DISD graduate.

So, there's that.

Ed D.
Ed D.

"we pay the examiner by the house"?

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