A Full Monty Firing

A part-time teacher in Florida has decided that his performance in the musical The Full Monty is more important to him than teaching.

Jason Brenner, who teaches music and theater at Lemon Bay High in Englewood, an hour south of Tampa, has been placed on temporary leave of absence until the end of this week, when he is expected to submit his resignation.

These were Brenner’s choices when the administration sent a letter giving him a three-choice ultimatum: “stop doing the show; continue the show but take yourself out of the last scene so that you’re not naked on stage, or continue doing the show at full capacity but hand in a letter of resignation.”

“We kind of hold our teachers to a higher moral standard than, say, someone who works for Comcast may or even the newspaper, because we’re dealing with our children every day,” school administrators said in a statement.

According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Brenner plans to continue with the amateur theater production through its closing performance on March 18. He doesn’t get paid for the show, which has been running for more than two weeks.

“It’s not unfair that teachers are held accountable for what they do in their leisure time,” Brenner said. “But I’m not out getting drunk at bars or doing something illegal. I’m out performing in a production that’s been a Broadway show.”

“I am not going to stop myself from doing something I love to do, and I have a career path that I want to take and it’s definitely not teaching high school,” Brenner said.

Instead, 28-year-old Brenner wants to pursue work as a musical director, vocal coach, and performer.

Where the Teachers Are

It’s too bad Brenner doesn’t work in Las Vegas, since he potentially could work effectively as a public-school teacher with time left over to perform at one of the popular shows. While recruiters there might have an easy sell with Brenner, it’s not always so easy convincing other teachers to head to Vegas.

In order to recruit teachers to work in Las Vegas, recruiters say they have to convince out-of-state teachers that the area offers an appealing family lifestyle that includes more than hotels and casinos.

(See the May issue of Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership to hear the various strategies Las Vegas recruiters are trying to get educators into schools.)

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While Brenner was quick to resign his teaching position, other educators around the country are dealing with layoff notices due to budget cuts.

In Quincy, California, the Plumas County education department just sent 55 layoff notices (approximately one-third of its employees). About 30 regular education teachers are to receive notice, with the rest comprising office staff support and special education positions.

If the district ends up laying off all of the employees who will receive notices, it would save close to $3 million. School officials there estimate local public schools are short $4.5 million from the loss of federal forest reserve funds and the decline in student enrollment.

Even with the layoffs, the board and administrators say they still need to cut over $1.5 million from next year’s budget.

In Canton, Massachusetts, the failure to pass a $3.95 million override will translate into the layoff of about 34 teachers. In Conneaut, Ohio, approximately 10 teachers across a variety of grade levels received reduction-in-force letters.

In Catoosa, Oklahoma, 28 people were recently laid off, including 22 staff workers and six teachers. The district claims it’s facing close to a half-million dollar budget shortfall.

The Paradise Unified School District in California just announced that in order to tighten its budget by about $1.5 million, its board of trustees approved giving layoff notices to the equivalent of 28.6 full-time teachers. The reductions in teaching staff would save approximately $689,000.

Between now and the end of the school year, however, many school committees explain that some of the layoff notices could be recalled due to budget reorganization or teacher retirements.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.


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