Prince William County Public Schools updated its teacher contract this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic — it now allows the division to furlough employees or modify work schedules due to unforeseen circumstances.
Superintendent Steve Walts has said there are no current plans to furlough employees. But the division has changed teacher contracts in case the division needs to furlough employees.
Sherry Clines, equity and employee relations specialist with the school division’s human resources department, told InsideNoVa the division “will continue to place our employees as our first budget priority and will do our very best to minimize economic hardships to the extent possible.”
“During the great recession of the past decade, while school divisions nationwide laid-off employees, PWCS did not,” Clines said.
The division has always included a clause that can make the contract “null and void and unenforceable” if the school board is unable to meet financial obligations, according to Cline.
The change to teacher contracts was based in part from a recommendation from the Virginia Department of Education’s “Recover, Redesign, Restart 2020,” which is roughly 130-pages of new safety guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Clines said.
“PWCS felt it was important to include this language due to the great economic uncertainty, and the unknown operating status that may be required, so that all employees would have a transparent understanding of rights under their contract,” Clines said. “The contract provides clarity in the event of unplanned funding deficits or operating status changes.”
Clines could not provide the total number of contracts sent to teachers or the number that had been returned by the deadline June 15.