Restructuring Approved by Board of Education

Post date: Apr 21, 2010 2:11:33 AM

At its regular meeting on April 19 the Board of Education approved changing to a seven-period school day at both Madison Middle School and the Mid-High School and to close the Early Childhood Center at Will Rogers a year earlier than originally planned. All of these actions had been discussed with the Superintendents' Budget Development Committee and sent on to the Board of Education for early action to help people know more about planned changes to accommodate a projected $2 million loss in state funding for 2010-2011.

The day schedules at Madison and Central will return to being similar, with Madison restoring the Reading classes that were cut some years back at that site but which had continued at Central. Having more periods per teacher per day at Madison will also help that site accommodate planned staffing cuts affecting both middle schools.

The Mid-High has seen its elective offerings impacted by increased state course mandates, the latest of which is a strangely specific set of Financial Literacy objectives that every student must master (reaching a level of specificity and accountability unmatched anywhere else in the state-mandated curriculum). This has led the district to implement a required semester class in Financial Literacy at the Mid-High next year. That is one of several reasons for changing its school day, along with the desire of limiting individual class sizes while increasing teacher loads more toward the normal state limit of 140 students per teacher.

The Mid-High schedule will allow for 50-minute classes (a 10% reduction of time in each class from the current schedule) by shortening passing periods and lengthening the student day (but not increasing the teacher work day of 7 hours 15 minutes).

At the April 19 meeting the Board of Education also made 2009-2010 the final year of the Early Childhood Center at Will Rogers. Those classes will return to their neighborhood schools at Ranch Heights, Wayside, and Wilson. This is possible since the new addition at Ranch Heights will be complete; by relocating gifted & talented classes at Wayside to Will Rogers that site can accommodate the return of the Pre-K and K classes; and Wilson can also squeeze in their returning classes. During 2010-2011 new additions will be constructed at both Wayside and Wilson to ease the crowding there. All of that construction was funded in the 2007 bond issue - such "sinking funds" cannot be used for general fund operations not specified in the original bond issue. Closing Will Rogers early will save the district almost $375,000. It will lead to some reassignments of elementary school principals across the district.

Around the district some of the teachers affected by involuntary transfers arising from likely budget cuts are being notified as the budget development process winds down. All first-year teachers are on temporary contracts and have been notified that they have no guaranteed job next year - some of those positions will be eliminated while those that remain will be posted for hiring. So teachers on temporary contracts must re-apply for their existing positions even if those positions are not scheduled for elimination, and all such teachers are urged to attend the district Job Fair on April 24.

The Superintendent's Budget Development Committee will make its formal recommendation on the final budget, detailing the various reductions, to the Board of Education on May 6 for action on May 17.

-Granger Meador, BEA Chief Negotiator