Reduction In Force.
The State of Ohio calls it “Suspension of contract due to reduction in force.” I was served the papers today. Pink slipped. Only the paper was white and very formal and serious looking.
At any rate, it mostly spells unemployment for me, something I’ve never had in my post-college adult life. Several friends of mine have been through it and one large family I know of has been through hell because of losing a job.
I was told by my human resources director, who strangely enough was the same principal who hired me in 2004. He was having a stressful time delivering the news, and I know I wasn’t the only one affected. A principal and the union president was in there with me. They all tried to make it go down easy, telling me their primary goal was to see that I was left in good hands.
The RIF list must be approved by the school board in April, and after that time there may be some surprises, perhaps another music teacher retiring or someone deciding to resign, in which case all this will be for nothing and my employment will continue without a hitch.
At any rate, my current contract expires in late June and my pay cycle would ensure that I have a regular check up to somewhere around Labor Day. So I have some time to plan and save. Imagine if I was told to pack up and not come back on Monday? What if I was handed a check and shown the door? That has happened to many, so I count myself as fortunate.
I am subject to a callback period of 16 months, in which case if someone retires or quits in the music department, I’ll be the first one offered a position. But I’m left with the questions, “Do I really want to go back?” “Do I want to work in a school where the teachers are often let go because of the formal procedures that are based on non-performance criteria?”
I have an obligation to provide for my family, so if a callback occurs and I’m not doing anything important, I’ll jump at the chance. But this is a wide open door for me at this point. What on Earth could be out there that a music teacher could morph into? I have a list of about 7 or 8 part-time activities I could get myself into. It’s at this point where I think there’s something so far outside the box waiting for me, that I’ll hardly remember there’s a box once I achieve it. Maybe it’s wishful thinking.
So here goes a new page, a new chapter into uncharted waters. I pray to God that this is part of his will and that the growth I experience through it will fulfill something bigger. I know it will, I know the bigger picture will be positive, I just hope that the suffering required to get there will be bearable.