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Seeking 'turnaround,' Georgia's Beach High School fires all staff

Beach High School in Savannah, Georgia, will fire all teachers and then rehire some as part of a plan to improve chronic low performance. The number of schools resorting to mass teacher firings is on the rise.

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The entire staff of Beach High School in Savannah, Ga., will have to reapply for jobs in the district this summer under a “turnaround” plan to improve chronic low performance.

Despite the school’s academic improvement in recent years, Savannah-Chatham Public Schools superintendent Thomas Lockamy told staff Thursday that he had to take dramatic action to avoid a state takeover and to qualify the school for $6 million in aid over the next three years.

Of the 200-member staff, up to 49 percent could be rehired at Beach, and the others will probably find positions within the district, says public information manager Karla Redditte.

“The superintendent is very pleased with the staff – it’s not any fault of theirs,” she says. “It’s just a tough decision that he had to make.... He chose the turnaround model because he figured it would give Beach High School a clean slate.”

The other options for the worst schools – under guidelines from the US Department of Education – include closing a school altogether, turning it into a charter school, or replacing the principal and making a range of other transformational changes.

Teachers in Georgia don’t have collective bargaining rights, which may partly explain why this case is playing out less contentiously than a similar turnaround case in Central Falls, R.I.

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