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Two Bridges' teachers laid off



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June 26, 2013 - According to Oxford Board of Education President Colleen Schultz when it comes to laying off teachers "it's never a nice thing for a board of education to do."

Due to the fact that Crossroads for Youth is opening a charter school this fall, instead of utilizing the district for educational services, Oxford had to find other places for six displaced teachers, according to Nancy Latowski, deputy superintendent of human resources.

"To avoid layoff for these staff members, the district worked very hard to determine alternate placements for these individuals," she said.

Finding alternate placements for two of these individuals meant layoffs for two Oxford Bridges teachers. The first was full-time at-will social studies Teacher Kyle Tecmire. The layoff vote was 7-0.

Having known Tecmire, Board Member Kim Shumaker said it was a tough decision.

"This is another quality person, a great example for kids," she said. "I was thrilled when I saw his name as a hire."

The second teacher to be laid off from Bridges was part-time at-will physical education teacher Kyle Rowley.

"The physical education teaching component of the position (one class) will be covered by another individual in order to utilize existing resources," Latowski said.

The board voted 6-1, Trustee Dan D'Alessandro cast the lone dissenting vote.

"He (Kyle Rowley) was the person that was involved in a lot of those physical confrontations (at the school) and to remove Kyle out of that position, I think we are setting ourselves up for a situation. He is the perfect person for that position," D'Alessandro said. "He handled himself tremendously. In my heart, that's one thing, but in my mind, he's got to be the person there."

Fellow teacher Bill Keenist Jr. spoke on Rowley's behalf.

"Kyle is my best friend and I understand that school districts have to do what they have to do. I understand everybody is in a tight spot, but I think it would really be a shame for this district to lose Kyle Rowley," Keenist said. "As a young man, as a coach and as an educator, he is one of a kind. I understand this kinds of stuff happens. I am just saying it's a shame if we lose him."

Trustee Jim Reis noted that not only would they lose Rowley as a teacher at Bridges, but the district could also lose him as an assistant coach on the football field.

"I would hate to lose that part of it because he has to go somewhere else," he said.

Reis asked if there is a chance the district could hire back either of the teachers that were laid off down the road.

Superintendent Dr. William Skilling said they have a growth plan based on student enrollment and said the teachers could be potentially hired back.

"Not necessarily everybody who got laid off," he said. "It's going to depend on what the needs are."

However, Skilling noted that any time a graduate of Oxford applies for a teaching position, they always get interviewed and are "always put at the top" of the list.

"If you have people like Kyle (Rowley), Billy (Keenist) and others who have graduated from here, they are going to be our most passionate, committed individuals because they say 'I went through here, I grew up here and I want to come back here,'" Skilling said. "We don't want to lose those people."

Speaking specifically of Tecmire, Skilling said he, too, would be considered for rehire if the district had a social studies teacher position open up.

"I can't personally guarantee who is hired back because . . . I don't hire a teacher," he said. "But obviously, if someone has done a good job for us and we have an opening they would certainly be first considered."

Latowksi said it is "regretful that any layoffs are necessary" and added that both Tecmire and Rowley have done "a great job" for students.

"We are hopeful that circumstances will allow them to return in the future. As a human resources administrator, it is always difficult to layoff employees," she said.

"It is an unfortunate consequence of funding reductions. Of course, we (will) support them in any way we can to help them secure new positions if they choose or continue to seek alternative options for them in the district, if possible."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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