At least 220 Shelby County School teachers, some who were likely just hired over the summer, could once again find themselves unemployed because administrators overestimated the district’s enrollment by 3,900 students.

In a letter sent to teachers Tuesday evening, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson II assured employees that his goal is to protect positions of those working closest to students.

“…I truly regret any time budgetary decisions affect employees —  especially those in our school buildings,” Hopson said.

The district stopped hiring external teacher candidates a few weeks ago once it realized enrollment projections, which determine the amount of school-based positions, were inflated.

The enrollment is measured after the 20th day of the school year.

“Historically, we have been pretty accurate with projections, but it was especially difficult this year due to uncertainties surrounding the opening of six new municipal districts,” officials said.

The district fractured into seven districts over the summer when six municipalities decided to create their own school systems.

Shelby County Schools administrators said they expect with the use of existing vacancies and funds, the number of affected employees will be fewer than 100.

Next week the district is holding a job fair only for displaced internal candidates. Every principal with a teaching vacancy will be encouraged to attend.

This past summer, after hundreds of teachers were laid off, Shelby County Schools created a re-employment list for teachers affected by school closures and job cuts after June 30.  Principals with vacancies were asked to review the internal candidates on the list first, before looking at external candidates. Initially, about 300 teachers were on the list.  After several hiring fairs for both external and internal candidates the district hired roughly 200 teachers in late June.

Late last month, the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association said they were told by the district that 50 displaced teachers remained on the list.

Additional displaced teachers on the district’s waiting list was exactly what Shanda Hunt feared last month as she hoped to find a position after spending 11 years in Memphis. Hunt taught history at Lanier Middle, which closed in May.

Hunt worried that more excessed teachers on the re-employment list would make it more difficult to land a position.

The association has filed multiple lawsuits this year arguing that displaced tenured teachers should be automatically placed by central office staff rather than hand-picked by principals, a “mutual consent” process the district adopted this year.

Williams said this latest staffing issue only highlights the claims of the association lawsuit.

“The district is using a hiring practice that has no proven method for success,” he said. “If the district has hired 675 teachers, how can they not need them? And where are these positions that they say will be posted? The website doesn’t have many positions.”

Contact Tajuana Cheshier at tcheshier@chalkbeat.org and (901) 730-4013.

Follow us on Twitter: @TajuanaCheshier@chalkbeattn.

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chalkbeattn.

Sign up for our newsletter for regular updates on Tennessee education news: http://tn.chalkbeat.org/newsletter/