Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tumultuous times in CMS

Tuesday's approval of teacher layoff guidelines starts a season of turmoil and trauma for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools employees and families.

As principals try to line up 2011-12 staffing and class schedules, hundreds of teachers and their students face uncertainty. Many teachers will have to switch schools to keep working, Superintendent Peter Gorman said today, while others are likely to get layoff notices in May only to be called back this summer, a pattern that has played out the previous two years.

"We're going to give people (layoff) letters that may get rescinded pretty quickly," Gorman said at a news briefing. "I hate that process."

Gorman and Chief Operating Officer Hugh Hattabaugh said they'll start notifying hundreds of non-educators whose jobs are at risk by next week. Those with access to financial and other sensitive data will be asked to leave immediately, they said, while others will work through the school year and may be able to compete for a smaller number of new jobs.

Laying off teachers requires board approval, which Gorman says has to start this early to meet the requirements for notice and appeals. Meanwhile, he said, state legislators have promised a better budget projection in April, and county manager Harry Jones will present his recommendation for CMS spending to county commissioners in May.

CMS, which has about 135,600 students this year, expects to add about 2,000 more next year, Gorman and Hattabaugh say. That means new jobs in schools that see enrollment grow. Meanwhile, with 10 schools closing, many teachers are trying to figure out where they'll land.

High school principals are already doing class schedules. But with the work force shrinking, they have to make tough choices. Small enrollment for specialized classes may mean cancelling those offerings. That could leave teachers looking for a new job and students having to reschedule classes.

The shuffle will continue through May, when layoff letters go out. Nontentured teachers -- generally those with four years' experience or less -- will be selected based on low performance ratings, licensure problems or short-term employment arrangements. If that doesn't cover the need, nontenured teachers in good standing will be cut.

Tenured teachers can be dismissed for performance reasons, or could end up jobless if there's no position left that fits their qualifications.

Teacher assistants also face the prospect of massive layoffs, and some have been rattled by a recent demand that they meet new standards for credentials. Until now, the credentials were required for new hires and assistants working in high-poverty schools that get federal Title I money, but teachers in lower-poverty schools hired before 2008 didn't need them.

Gorman said today he's been urging all assistants for years to get those credentials. The current plan calls for eliminating about 350 assistant jobs in grades one and two, leaving stiff competition for the remaining kindergarten jobs. Decisions about who stays and who goes will be based on job evaluations, Gorman said, rather than the assistant's current grade level.

Teachers who lack the credentials won't be automatically dismissed from a low-poverty school, Gorman said, but they could have a tough time landing jobs at other schools if they're forced out of their current post.

"We're running out of options for where to place people," he said. "We never in the world thought we'd lose all these TAs."

But he offered some encouragement to families of severely disabled students, who have worried that the new requirement could lead to the loss of assistants and personal aides who have expertise with the special needs of the students they work with. Special-education assistants will not be part of the overall teacher-assistant cut, Gorman said. But he said he is pushing them to get the credentials, too.


Anonymous said...

Tenure needs to be eliminated.

Anonymous said...

These people must really love to teach to put up with all the BS. Teachers deserve a lot better treatment then what they get.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anon. 4:12. That is a lot of the frustration in a nutshell. I love nothing more than being in front of the classroom, or dealing with students one-on-one. It's not that I can't do anything else, it's that I don't want to.

Anonymous said...

And yet they protected Teach for America recruits... curious.

Anonymous said...

Since the teaching profession has been targeted by the Republicans and already is low paying any college student should drop this major for just about anything.

Anonymous said...

Teach for America teachers aren't even certified to teach until PERHAPS the end of their second year of teaching, at which time their contracts have expired!

I cannot believe that a) this has never been reported and b)this is acceptable to a superintendent and BOE that claims to be interested in the education of all children.

I say, with all of the hubub over education across the nation, dismantle the Department of Education!

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:59, I agree. There are so many back doors anyhow. Why waste money on a worthless degree?

Anonymous said...

You should post links to the "Teachers' Union Gone Wild" undercover videos. It might not be suitable content however, as these teachers use the F-word a lot. They also use the N-word, when referring to a colleague who called a student the N-word. It was not deemed a firing offense. One of the teachers said that once you had tenure, you basically had to(F-word) a student in the hallway to get fired.

Anonymous said...

Teacher certification needs to be eliminated. The Teach for America teachers do a fine job without it.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the 'real world' teachers. Most of us have been experiences 'tumultuous times' for quite a while.

Anonymous said...

Whoohooo 5:08, they do an ok job without it WITH the support of veteran teachers.

Let's look at the numbers next year when experienced teachers keep their ideas, knowledge, and expertise to themselves and not share with the new kids on the block.

How well would they do without seminars, pep rallies, and educational support from the outside.

Do you know that these teachers get free tickets to sporting events to take their students? While everyone else has to fund raise to provide extras for theirs.

Don't worry. The gloves are off and the gantlet has been thrown down. No more support from the inside for the TFAs! Good luck to their students, to the principals of the schools who hire them, to Gorman, and to the city.

There is more than one way to handle this situation. Can we say "passive aggressive?"

Ann Doss Helms said...

Amen to 5:13 and 4:28. Yes, many of us continue to go through tumultuous times. Here at the O, we've done layoffs, pay cuts and week-long furloughs, and it really, really stinks. But like 4:28, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do for a living. That's worth remembering when the bad stuff threatens to grind us down.

Anonymous said...

5:18 I have volunteered in several high poverty schools and have heard announcements over the PA system that tickets have been donated for various sporting events, also arts events--not just for TFA classes. We live in a generous community.

Anonymous said...

...oooo....volunteered. So clearly you have a very clear picture of what goes on in classrooms... BWAH!

Anonymous said...

Teacher benefits need to be slashed. 34K for entry-level teachers is way more than enough; they can pay for their own health insurance and save for retirement. In fact, $34K is way too much for an inexperienced teacher. Slash the entry-level pay rate, and PAY FOR PERFORMANCE. If they don't do a good job, fire them and bring in more Teach for America recruits.

Anonymous said...

Why is Parent University still operating? Child Care Resources Inc and a ton of non profit agencies offer the same exact training to parents and have been for years! What about the afterschool program with over 700 centers and licensed homes in the county that are seeing low enrollment I wouldn't be surprised if they lowered the school age rates to help cover if the afterschool program was cut!

Anonymous said...

Certainly, 5:36, we do live in a generous community. However, I have never heard of Panthers or Speedway tickets given out to the "general population" of teachers.

As whomever wishes...I noticed that this time around, Gorman did not say that no one wanted to work in the high poverty schools. His excuse for keeping the TFAs was that a contract had already been signed.

Honestly, I am beginning to believe that all teachers should marry well and free lance.

Free-market, may he who has the best skills make the most money!

Anonymous said...

Many of you need to refrain from commenting for you truly do not understand the magnitude of the challenges teachers face. It's easy to cast blame at teachers for the ills of society. Yet, have you walked in their shoes? Try teaching children with significant behavioral/emotional problems. Spend time in a high-poverty school. Our educational problems are complex, and it is naive to assume they can simply be fixed by clamping down on teachers.

With regards to Teach For America recruits, they do not produce stronger results than teachers who pursue traditional paths at the elementary and middle school levels. There is some minimal effect at the high school level. Yet, this effect is not significant. Take the time to learn something before posting. Don't simply repeat talking points without evidence to support them.

Anonymous said...

Pay for Performance--It doesn't matter if every single teacher grows their students a year or more. That system is rigged. Someone will always be at the bottom. Don't you all get it? Someone ALWAYS loses with PfP.

If you don't know what you are talking about, research and learn more about a topic before you spew off at the mouth.

Someone's teacher should have taught them that.

Anonymous said...

Check out these crazy, drunken, tenure-protected teachers:

Ann Doss Helms said...

5:53, you are exactly right about PU -- but rather than duplicating offerings by other agencies, my understanding is that PU helps recruit and direct people to those classes. It's kind of an ironic case of successful marketing having a down side. PU basically repackaged a lot of stuff that was already happening, pulling it under one umbrella and using CMS's clout (and some grant money) to publicize it. At the time, Pete Gorman got a lot of credit for a "new" focus on parents. Now he's being blamed for wasting money on that program, when there's little or no CMS tax money being spent.

Pete G. said...

Alright teachers, here's my offer: 25K a year and no benefits; take it or leave it. Except for STEM and other hard-to-find teachers. You keep saying you can do something else; now is the time to put up or shut up.

Anonymous said...

All this pay for performance stuff from the private sector doesn't work in education. What does a business do with inferior product when it arrives? They send it back! As teachers we can't send back the inferior products, they are children and we teach them all regardless of the background, intelligence etc of the child.

Anonymous said...

3:43-- Can you justify that comment? Because obviously you have little knowledge of tenure in a right to work state. It (in fact) means very little.

Anonymous said...

Teach for America should be the first to go....Hey Teachers...keep voting for NCAE endorsed Democrats and this is what you get. The Democrats have controlled North Carolina for over 100 years and this is what you get....Where is the lottery money????

Anonymous said...

I am a principal in CMS forced to choose between running a media center (school library for non-educators), having a guidance counselor or a literacy facilitator to assist in the reading philosophy of a school...while offering class sizes that start at 24 and go up to 30...during a time when teachers are being faced with lay-offs in conjunction with a new evaluation tool, a pay for performance mentality and fewer assistants to help in a longer school day next year...

The community needs to hear the cry of our needs. Come August all 130,000 students will come -- and we need to be ready both physically and emotionally.

Larry said...

I just love it.

We tried a few years ago to get some sanity and have our system fixed.

The Observer, Center City Partners, Elected Officials and The Foundation for the Carolinas all worked against us.

But now all we have to show for all those dog and pony acts they did under the guise of community meetings is what we have now.

Folks it comes down to a small group of people who they made fun of and tried to make you think wanted to send us back to the stone age.

The fact is we all saw what was going to happen and we could have avoided this with schools that did not need to be built opening and closing and trying to make people happy who had no idea how to pay for the toys to begin with.

Anonymous said...

the continuous political vitriol levied at teachers is truly depressing. I don't mind honest criticism, but the characterization of as as greedy, lazy bums is overkill.

btw, how much do the leases on the learning community offices cost? does anyone know?

Anonymous said...

We need more part-time teachers.
We could let undergraduate and graduate students teach as part of their degree. In most cases, we wouldn't have to pay them at all; they would pay us to take a 'teaching practicum.' They would receive formal academic credit, but no pay.

And get rid of NC licensure. Teachers should be judged soley by their academic credentials and their performance. Only the very best teachers, with the highest level of credentials,i.e. advanced degrees (or multiple advanced degrees), should be full-time employees. All full-time employees also should have adminstrative duties. This system works in our community colleges, which have always worked under a harsh budget, and it will work in our K-12 system, because, in our globalized economy, there is no other choice.

Anonymous said...

Why are the cuts to Alternative Education being ignored? 12 of 26 teachers are being cut. That is almost a 50% reduction.

Anonymous said...

The genius at 5:53 who said teacher benefits should be slashed has obviously never been in a classroom and probably wouldn't survive five minutes in one. I taught for four years in CMS and got out at just the right time but the problem is not our teachers and teachers don't need to be paid less. If anything, teachers should receive "combat pay" bonuses over and above what the top level "brass" are paid because they are in the classroom fighting the good fight on a daily basis. Bring in more Teach for America teachers? Are you serious? Whatever field of work you're in 5:53, stay there and please don't run for school board - or any other public office for that matter. If you want to cut anything, cut the pay at the top, cut the school system into smaller - more manageable slices and get rid of this stupid corporate CMS.

Pete said...

We don't need Teach for America, we need Teach for North Carolina! All top UNC-system grads would be eligible after completing a short summer program in K-12 planning and a few other subjects. For the first two years, they will be unpaid interns, and judged on their performance. After two years, they will be eligible for a probationary part-time job. After about ten years, they might get a full-time job! Teach for North Carolina!

Anonymous said...

Why is it that the economic crisis created by poorly regulated banking and real estate practices, a trillion-dollar war in Iraq and enormous tax cuts for the wealthy is being blamed on ... school teachers?

Zon said...

I wonder when the people of Charlotte are going to tire of Gorman. He is anti-teacher, anti-classroom and thinks the only way to educate is more tests on children.

Our children are not test subjects, there are infinitely better ways of evaluating teachers.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:04

You nailed it! I'm an elementary teacher who appreciates hearing a principal speaking straight about the gravity of the situation.

Anonymous said...

Teachers, you need to either give up your outrageous salaries, or your extreme benefits. Based on your lavish benefit package, you should be making minimum wage. It's time to get off welfare, time to quit dining at the public trough. Your entitlement mentality has no place in our economic crisis. Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. If you can do better, the road is wide open. It's got nothing to do with "deserve."

Anonymous said...

The terrible economic times that we are experiencing couldn't have come at a better time for Pete Gorman. How lucky can a guy be? He desperately desires a national reputation (Strategic Staffing, Pay for Performance,etc.) and he can now use the economic times (and the backs of our children) to thrust himself into the national spotlight. No one has ever made PfP work. Why in the world does he think he can? Pete Gorman's personal agenda is going to devastate CMS and we will be left to pick up the pieces while he continues to hobnob with Arne Duncan.

Anonymous said...

8:49 PM is obviously smoking crack. I can't imagine anyone referring to teacher pay as "outrageous" or the benefit package "lavish." If that's the case, then somehow I'm missing the boat because my paycheck is outrageously low.

Anonymous said...

8:56pm: Then quit if your pay is too low. There are plenty of people waiting to take your place, and who wouldn't resort to 'he must be on crack' platitudes. Of course, if you're a CMS teacher, you probably don't know what platitude means. Seriously, if you don't like it, quit.

Nameless said...

Ultimate budget solution for CMS:
Give every student an iPad and send them home.
Email them a list every day of videos or multimedia from Discovery Streaming, Acuity, Renlearn, Smartboard or other whiz bang site to watch.
Have them take a multiple choice test online. They get their grade instantly.
No buses, no teachers, no free lunch, no recess, no detention, no campus crime, no buildings, no PTA fundraising, no government waste, no humanity.

Then end.

If you think I'm joking, this is where we're headed. As adults we are already plugged into this type of media. Why not accelerate this experience for our kids?

Anonymous said...

8:49pm, what are you smoking? Those who can, teach. Those who can't, do something far less significant. If you can do, then perhaps you should thank a teacher for your knowledge and abilities. I am not a teacher, but I am smart enough to respect what they do. My guess is you wouldn't be able to cut it as a teacher. Go bark up another tree and do something more useful than trashing teachers.

Anonymous said...

7:11, Please--- get off your computer and run for the board then. We need some new (and not ridiculous) ideas and leadership. I'd love to see how that theory would play out in an elementary setting.

8:49, I'm still waiting to see the sweet hours, the cushy accommodations, the huge raises, the excellent public treatment. Hopefully, if I do my job well, the kids I'm teaching will have their priorities more in order than you obviously do. Please keep your ignorance to yourself.

Anonymous said...

Teach for America is some of Obama's crap. Get rid of it and give those jobs to local teachers. I do believe most of those Teach for Americans are minorities. Correct me if I am wrong. The problem with CMS is that from 1972 every decision made has been based on politically correctness and not always the smartest financial decisions and as Rev. Wright says, "the chickens have come home to roost."

Anonymous said...

LIKE 10:06pm! If you haven't spent time in a school recently, and I mean more than just an hour or two, don't pretend to know what a teacher's job is really like.

What's really sad is no one seems interested in the fact that they are cutting 328+ teacher assistant positions. TA's do the type of work that goes unnoticed until they aren't there to do it. They do everything from opening the car doors for students in the morning to teaching a small reading group or performing weekly reading assessments so teachers can continue teaching.

Now, after NCLB has been in place for TEN YEARS, they decide to require all TA's to be certified as highly qualified or be fired.

The fact that was not reported is that those TA's previously required to meet this cerfitication were allowed to count workshop and inservice hours from 1998 forward. TA's who have to meet it now can only count hours from 2005 forward. It's not like the knowledge they gained before 2005 expired or they forgot what they learned!

Anonymous said...

I can't stand TFA, but is has been around for almost 20 years... can't blame Obama.

Anonymous said...

Teachers and TA's need to be paid like daycare workers. Get off the taxpayer gravy train. You're being laid off because you are paid too much. Get in touch with the real world, or get some serious credentials.

Anonymous said...

Please 10:27, tell us, what are true credentials?

How do you get them?

Do you need to go to school to achieve "true credentials?"

Well... Isn't that ironic.

Anonymous said...

Someone please give Peter Gorman a job in the National Spotlight...soon...before he ruins what is left of CMS. Let's look at his performance since 2006. Test scores have made minimal gains, the community is furious at his decisions, schools are closing, and morale is at an all time low. When you read his memos, Gorman always blames the County Commission for not giving him enough money and the press for not treating him fairly. However, he fails to mention the huge increases in salaries over $100,000 for administrators since he arrived. Ironically, those very principals and other administrators are also no longer feeling supportive. He makes these sweeping mandates with seemingly no logic and makes them do all his dirty work. Quit using our children as guinea pigs and move on!

Anonymous said...


County budget history:
2010-11 $1,233,565,489
2003-04 $1,059,826,920

You draw your own conclusions.

Here are mine.

Even if a small number of people were to say they would pay higher taxes to preserve the school budget, the numbers indicate that most of the county and state residents don’t have the income to support the wish. They have, as an aggregate, 2004 incomes.

As concerns the schools, they will have a 2004 budget but are burdened with a student population that hasn’t made a like retraction. The growth has been about 4,000 students a year. Those students have been mostly low-income. So by the funding formula at 1 to 1.3, that equals a yearly increase of 5,200 students. (funding formula has been reduced to 1.25 for 2011-12)

In the face of lower federal, state, county and grant revenue fewer teachers will have to teach more students. If anyone sees it differently, let me know.

The issue of the day is who gets RIF’d - when and why. I’ve been looking at the rules for over a year. CMS is following the rules and the law.

The layoffs, RIFs and firings (or whatever you call it) are too complex for the nine member school. Besides, there is little they can do. They have no taxing authority. They have only three functions; try to understand what CMS staff is doing, try to relay to the public their impressions and try to appear organized and competent.

The board was too inexperienced for last year’s budget cuts and just rubber stamped a pretty good process from Dr. Gorman. This year looks to be a carbon copy – but with more money to cut and fewer places to find it.

Bolyn McClung

Wiley Coyote said...


Surely you don't believe the County will go back to a little over a $1.05 billion dollar budget do you?

Also, the budget I looked at for 10/11 was $1,339,316,798, not $1,233,565,489.

FY 2011 Budget Recommended Budget

June 15 - The Board of County Commissioners adopted a $1.35 billion annual budget that does not increase the property tax rate, but does include a rate increase for police services to the County residents living outside a city or town jurisdiction.

The next budget may be less than 2011, but not to the 2003 level.

From February 2011 report:

Our initial budgetary position for FY12 is much improved from FY11 ($0.5 Million gap vs. $95.0 Million gap

Anonymous said...

Last year's reduction in force was a true fiasco, not a pretty good process.

I simply would like to know why Gorman and the board would keep and add new TFAs when they are facing layoffs? These people are uncertified to teach. Call me slow, but I just don't get it. Wouldn't they, shouldn't they be the first to be cut.

Think about the resentment this could and probably will cause within already fragmented, high-stressed, low morale schools.

Gorman is a rude, inconsiderate, ill-equipped "leader". And I wonder about those who defend his actions.

Anonymous said...

To 5:17

Subject: Your comments have given my an opportunity to say a few things about CMS.

1. Fiasco: Budget process and its timing is controlled by having to make a plan before the revenues are known. In the far-away past this wasn't a problem. If CMS needed more money later they got it. Not so now! As an example, the $25 Million from several years ago that was caused by a lower than expected enrollment wasn't returned to the county.

2. Inconsiderate: I'll remind you of the first action Gorman took when he arrived. He insisted that all calls and request be responded to in 24 hours. The complaint of the prior administration was that it was a wall of silence. To this day his policy is still the mantra. The recent Ann Helms story about the student journalist is a good example. She got one of her answers on a Sunday evening.

3. Rude: Not my experience nor have I observed it.

4. Ill-equipped: Two ways to look at this. One - does he have the ability to convert information into action and policy? Yes, but if you don't like the policy then he is guilty as charged. Two - has he built an organization that implements his decisions? Yes, but once again if you don't like his decisions....

I haven't always liked what he has done. The continuation of Weighted Student Staffing started before he arrived and the creation of the Central Zone to consolidate Title I students come to mind. The battle over Charter School money bothered me. I didn't like the Achievement Zone but it saved our bacon in Judge Manning's courtroom. But in all of these and others I never found him slightly worthy of an attack on his character.

Now, I will point out something that drove people crazy: he was often on that dang smartphone while things are going-on. I haven't noticed it as much lately and did notice at the last board meeting when two public speakers were critical of CMS that he listened intently. Later in the night he built their comments into one of his responses to the board.

I don't call this cheerleading. I watch all the board members too. What they say and how they act are important. Sometimes they make your head want to explode. I try to make what I observe work toward a better school system.

I didn't plan these little paragraphs as an answer to you but more of an opportuntiy to remind the public of some specifics that demonstrate what I have observed and why I think that with all the obsticles that stand in the way, CMS is not off-course.

Thanks for your blog comments. They helped me but a few thoughts on virtual paper.

Bolyn McClung

therestofthestory said...

Let me just point out one item about the budget. Last year there all this turmoil was going on about cutting CMS's budget and laying off teachers etc. In the end, CMS ended up with $10 million more than the previous year.

So my question is, what happened to the money saved with all the cuts made? I know some teachers were hired later in the summer. Also I know some budget cuts were retained such as CMS TV production. Airing CSM TV does not cost CMS anything. Creating programs and such are the costs. So I am very wary of a truly transparent CSm organization.

But you are right that Dr. Gorman and his staff runs roughshod over the BOE. The BOE with the exception of Kaye are in over their heads.

Wiley Coyote said...

...and Larry Gauvreau was always the pariah...

Gotta love it.

Anonymous said...

Society has reached a new low when teachers are reviled. In countries that are now surpassing the USA in educational rankings, teachers a re well respected.

America is over.

Anonymous said...

Unlike America, the countries that are beating us also don't get their teachers from the bottom of the college-bound pool (down with the home economics and physical education majors).

It makes a big difference in the respect they get, but there is a bit of a chicken-egg problem here.

People with higher abilities won't go into education as long as they have other opportunities.

Instead of making teaching even lower status, we should be using this economic downturn to make it better.

But, I think we are actually doing the opposite.

I think it means that good teachers will be even harder to find in the future.

Altogether, this doesn't look good.

Student said...

As a student, it seems peculiar that even though Gorman is pushing teachers and TAs to get credentials, it might not mean better education. While some teachers stay and have practically no credentials because they are/were needed (math), others are getting cut although they have the same experience. Teachers need better job protection than just "credentials".

Anonymous said...


1. One fiasco was that teachers were notified that they weren't going to have a job for the next school year one day before the last day of school. Moreover, they found out through the school's grapevine that they were receiving a pink slip. No procedures were set in place for RIF 2009 or 2010.

2. He is inconsiderate; inconsiderate of those who work for him. Teachers have to give at least a 30 day notice before they resign. Gorman did not allow time for many teachers to find employment for the new school year. By the time they were officially notified, positions in the surrounding counties had already been filled.

3. Rude--refer to number 2.

4. Ill-equipped--Does he have the ability to convert action into action and policy? Ehhh, not really... When faced with massive budget cuts, he decides to cut teachers and not programs. Really?

I know of several schools that were not fully staffed for this school year until January--2011 that is. So, who (in a position of authority) would cut teachers, create a teacher shortage, then leave hundreds of students without critical needs teachers for a full semester? I mean, who does that???

Then, to top this all off, he shoves in TFAs into the very schools that NEED experienced teachers. Again, who does that???

Gorman is unaware, doesn't care, or is ill-equipped to handle the nuances of such a large, complex district as CMS.

And ohhh, there is more, lots more, more than the stuff we read here.

Gorman was promoted beyond his character and capabilities and Charlotte will reap the outcomes for this botched system.

Anonymous said...

Why don't they start rating parents based on performance? You can't hold teachers accountable for student success without holding parents accountable. Education doesn't begin and end with the school day.

Anonymous said...

I found the situation repulsive, so guess what I did? I left, and am finding a new job/career. Yes, that with a master's degree, 2 years of my life, and $40,000. Oh well, life goes on. If you teach and don't like it, go.

The system does suck, and the job is terrible, unless you truly have always wanted to be a teacher. And, if that is you, stop complaining and make the best of it.

Anonymous said...

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