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When layoffs are required, the school board usually promises that teachers will not be fired. But because of arcane personnel laws, administrators faced with pink slips can come out of the office, into the classroom, and “bump” real teachers out of their jobs. As a result, office workers who hadn’t seen the inside of a classroom in five years are suddenly teaching advanced calculus. But last week, Ward 3 Councilmember Kathy Patterson took the first step to reform the root-of-all-our-problems Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act. Under the amendment, bumping would be a thing of the past; senior-level government workers could only compete for jobs similar to their own. “If we’re going to maintain [workers’] rights, a person should not be permitted to move into a job for which they’re not qualified or one that is not comparable,” Patterson says. Predictably, her attack on bumping is causing union infighting. School administrators hate the bill; teachers love it. If it passes, city officials would be able to accurately predict savings at the time they make layoffs, something that would no doubt come in handy in the months to come. Patterson’s bill also requires the mayor to renegotiate union contracts and include performance reports of employees in the annual budget, and—hallelujah—eliminates a 90-day notice period before an employee is given an unsatisfactory evaluation.