Buyout offer tempts hundreds of Dallas teachers

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on February 26, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Updated Sunday, Feb 27 at 12:59 PM

DALLAS — In only its first day, administrators estimate Dallas ISD teachers have claimed more than half of the district's $7 million fund to encourage educators to quit.

Many teachers camped outside the district's headquarters Friday evening to be among the first to to accept the offer of up $10,000 to resign at the end of the school year.

"It's time to go, time to let some young people come in," said seventh grade reading teacher Kay Harris, who has been a teacher for 32 years. "I've done my job well, so I leave with a big smile."

She'll also get a big check in July. The district is offering 15 percent of an employee's annual salary, not to exceed $10,000.

The offer drew nearly 500 educators on Saturday, the first day it was available.

"It was a bigger turnout than we expected," said DISD human resources director Claudia Rodriguez. Administrators estimate they've already committed $4 million of the fund's $7 million.

Teachers who applied for the bonus should know within 48 hours if they are approved.

DISD is trying to thin its ranks because the state may cut $253 million from the district's budget — a move that could lead to massive layoffs.

"This process is certainly a less painful process than sitting in front of somebody and telling them we have to let them go," Rodriguez said.

Critics worry, however, that this offer is also pulling away the city's most experienced teachers. Those nearing retirement are likely to be among the most tempted to leave.

"I think it will probably help," said math coach Sue Schwartz, who turned in her resignation after teaching for 43 years, "but I also think they're losing a lot of their good tenured teachers."

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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