The Diocese of Rochester has put several human-resources initiatives into place to assist approximately 200 employees of Monroe County Catholic schools who will be displaced by the school closings announced Jan. 18, according to Mary Bauer, diocesan director of human resources. These initiatives include employment-search assistance, benefits and workshops.
“Hopefully it will pay off for our impacted teachers and staff,” Bauer said.
The diocese will implement a temporary freeze on outside hiring for positions that become available through attrition within the Monroe County Catholic schools, Bauer said. This freeze will be in effect until at least June 30, and will give displaced school employees first crack at any openings.
“We’re trying to do the best we can in the matchmaking,” she said.
Diocesan officials also will try to help displaced school employees find positions within parishes, Catholic Charities and even the diocese itself. Officials also are working with other affiliated schools in the region to expedite the potential hiring of displaced employees, Bauer said.
“I can first of all express profound gratitude for their commitment to our kids, and for the ways they have served them so often with considerable personal sacrifice over the years. I would express the hopes, next, that we can absorb at least some of them into our system,” Bishop Matthew H. Clark told the Catholic Courier. “We will try to absorb them not only into the school system, but also in the diocese. I’m sure some would qualify for a variety of positions in our parish communities or other agencies, including perhaps our diocesan staff.”
The diocese also will help displaced employees try to find employment with other school districts in the Rochester area and with Catholic schools in other areas of the nation that are experiencing growth, Bauer said, citing Baltimore as one such growth area. For those employees who choose to retire, the diocese will help them make the transition from full-time employment to retirement, Bishop Clark said.
Health-care and Employee Assistance Program benefits for displaced employees who are not offered positions with the Diocese of Rochester or the Monroe County Catholic schools will be extended until Oct. 31, 2008. Through the Employee Assistance Program, displaced employees can take advantage of counseling or help with decision-making, Bauer said. Pension-eligible employees of Monroe County Catholic schools will receive special pension statements, she said.
“There also is some retraining grant money available for those who might seek a different career path,” Bauer said.
Diocesan officials have met with representatives from Rochester Works and the New York state Department of Labor, and are planning a series of workshops and seminars for displaced employees. These sessions will take place in February and March and cover such topics as job searching, resume preparation and interviewing skills, she said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated with reaction and new information on 2-4-08.