What’s a Destaff

I have to explain what a destaff is a lot! Technically, it should probably be written “de-staff,” but my district has a tendency to make up words or spellings for words and then declare these to be official. So we call it a destaff (and our computers have to put a little, squiggly, red line under it every time to indicate we misspelled it).

Specifications 1 by Zach Winfrey, art teacher
Specifications 1 by Zach Winfrey, art teacher

So what is a destaff! I would say it is one of the great benefits of working for a large school system.

In my last post on itinerant staffing, I mentioned that staffing allocations to schools are given based on enrollment. In that context it was to understand that art teacher staffing can come in small increments. In a different context, however, it means that a drop in enrollment results in less staffing for the following year. In a small school system, that could mean an art teacher no longer has a job. In a large school system, however, a drop in enrollment at one school might displace a teacher from that school, but there is sure to be a vacancy somewhere else in the district.

That’s what a destaff is. When enrollment at a school goes down to a point that they no longer need the same number of art teachers, the teacher with least seniority gets destaffed. This means they won’t be in that same school the following year, but they will still have an equivalent job. That’s way better than getting fired, right?!

I don’t mean to suggest that getting destaffed is a barrel of monkeys. I help teachers navigate the destaff process every year, and it’s no fun. It’s stressful, and involves a lot of uncertainty. But what a relief to know that our school system is so big that some other art teacher (many in fact) is sure to retire, resign, or otherwise vacate a position when you happen to need one.

This coming week, our human resources department has the dubious honor of ensuring that all teachers who were destaffed have a placement for next year. This has to be done before any hiring of outside candidates can happen. I will admit that destaff placements are not always a “clean” process, but our folks in HR really do try! They try to find a job that is as close as possible to the job you were destaffed from. If a full-time elementary art teacher who works in a school on the western side of the county is destaffed, for example, they will do their best to find another full-time elementary art position on the western side of the county. Pretty nice right!

My teacher friends who were destaffed this year, hang in there. It will all work out in the end!

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