Archive for Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Negotiators discuss teacher planning time

April 11, 2007


Kelly Barker, lead negotiator for the LEA, and Kim Bodensteiner, lead negotiator for the school board, discuss elementary plan time and early retirement


Negotiators for Lawrence's school board and teachers inched a little closer toward an agreement on two controversial topics Tuesday night: planning time and early retirement.

Progress was made on a top issue for the teachers: increasing elementary plan time, said Kelly Barker, lead negotiator for the Lawrence Education Association.

"We've been studying it for a time and we've finally gotten to the point where we believe we have a solution," Barker said.

And on a top issue for the school board - restructuring early retirement so it doesn't cost so much - negotiators studied a plan similar to one used in Salina's school district.

But negotiators still have not discussed salary issues, which generally are put off until after the Kansas Legislature decides on a school finance package. They plan to continue meeting weekly through May 8.

During Tuesday's talks, negotiators went over details on how to get more plan time for kindergarten teachers and teachers at the East Heights Early Childhood Center.

All of the district's elementary teachers now get 190 minutes for planning during their work week. The LEA goal is to increase that in the next school year to 325 minutes a week.

"Secondary teachers in high school get 325 minutes, and we're trying to get elementary teachers to be equitable with that group," Barker said.

The LEA eventually would like to bring the plan time for all teachers up to the 420 weekly minutes that junior high teachers have, Barker said.

Estimates indicate that allowing elementary teachers more plan time will cost up to $1.7 million because it would mean hiring 25 to 30 more teachers, said Kim Bodensteiner, lead negotiator for the school board.

During the next two weeks, district administrators will work to see whether they can get exact figures on the cost at each of the district's elementary schools, Bodensteiner said.

Negotiators also are studying a proposed early retirement plan that is similar to one being used in Salina schools, where defined contributions are made into a retirement program.

Currently, eligible Lawrence teachers can receive an early retirement benefit for five years. Eligibility is based on a formula that includes the person's age and his or her time of service.

To get the benefit, a teacher must be eligible for the state's retirement system and have worked in the local district for at least 15 years.

Several years ago the district was able to fund early retirement because higher-paid teachers were being replaced by newer, lower-paid teachers.

But as more baby boomers reach retirement age, costs have gone up. Next year it will cost the district $600,000 to replace teachers going into early retirement, Bodensteiner said.

Both Barker and Bodensteiner said the idea is to phase in a new plan, but to make sure people who are eligible for early retirement do not lose any benefits.

"The idea would be to run two parallel programs at the same time," Bodensteiner said.


Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years, 7 months ago

I would love to get rid of half day wedensday, or at least have in only once a month.

RightinLawrence 10 years, 7 months ago

It would be wonderful if the teachers were half as interested in educating our children as they are with negotiating more time off for themselves.

IMHO...Teachers' unions are the enemy of education.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 7 months ago

Get rid of unfunded federal mandates, then teachers would have more time.

RightinLawrence 10 years, 7 months ago

Retailers in town know that, since "collaboration time" has been in place on Wednesday can count on teacher's coming in for appointments, shopping, etc.

Now they want more "time off" during their day. Most people have to find a way to juggle their responsibilities during the day. I am sick of prima dona teachers thinking that they are owed more than most workers who, by the way, don't get a week off for spring break, two weeks at Christmas, and three months during the summer...

Give me a break!

Kathy Gates 10 years, 7 months ago

Kill two birds with one stone--hire extra paras to watch the kids during additional recess time, which would make the cookie police happy. This would also free up time for the teachers to get their extra plan time.

hugedell 10 years, 7 months ago

Generally speaking, people that rail against teachers for anything and everything they ask for are completely unacquainted with the profession as a whole, and most likely do not personally know a single teacher.

My wife is a teacher. That may make me biased, but I can say with certainty that 190 minutes a week of plan time for an elementary teacher is ridiculous. My wife gets even less. She has to plan and eat during a 15 minute timeframe each day. This forces her to work on average 10 to 11 hour days during the week (often not getting home until between 8 and 9 p.m.) and several hours on the weekend.

Spring break, Christmas break, and summer vacation is not solid vacation for elementary teachers. Much of it is used for preparation.

So, for the first two folks that commented on this article, get informed.

RightinLawrence 10 years, 7 months ago

I do know teachers; however, I don't buy into the whole "poor teacher" mentality. Everybody who has a job has to juggle responsibilities, everybody who has a job deals with time crunch, everybody who has a job eats at their desk or skips lunch or eats in their car from one appointment to another. In looking at the teaching profession; the work environment, the days off, the compensation, the summer break, the snow days, the benefits...provide a much more comfortable work and living situation than most careers and I am sick of the constant complaining.

If your wife is not getting home until 8-9pm, does she not go in until 10am? Many times my husband goes in at 7am and doesn't get home until 6:30pm. It's called a salary do what it takes to get your job done. I am sick of hearing about the horrible hours that teachers work. Try to find a teacher available after 4pm. It doesn't happen.

Look, if your wife actually cares about the students, is willing to work with parents...I would say the students are fortunate to have her. I have found that teachers have become much more about them, their schedules, their compensation, their quality of life, touting their political beliefs, complaining to the students about their jobs etc. than they are about educating our children.

hugedell 10 years, 7 months ago

Maybe your issue is more with career jealousy? If you think it's such a cushy job, give it a whirl. I wouldn't be caught dead in front of an elementary classroom. I think that the teaching profession suffers from ill-conceived prejudices, much like the legal profession (which, incidentally, I am one year from entering).

My wife is at school at 7:30 each morning.

del888 10 years, 7 months ago

I have to explain to my kids every year that we can't go on 'spring break' vacation because we have jobs. We don't get a week off during spring break, 10 days during Xmas, 10 weeks during the summer, and every other 'holiday' that the real workers don't get to take. Assuming that teachers actually work say, 7:00 am to 4:00 pm (8 hours), that still leaves plenty of 'planning time'. The rest of us work 10 - 12 hours a day.

softtalker 10 years, 7 months ago

wow.. My mother is a teacher and I can guarentee you 90% of her time is devoted to her school children. Right now the school board is forcing teachers to take college courses AGAIN to learn for YOUR children. If they are teaching during the day and going to school at night, when are they going to get any other work done? Most teachers have a family, in my case of 5. So what if some teachers go out during the planning period that obviously means they are done doing what they need to do. But DO NOT sit there and act like you would be where are you are today if it weren't for teachers. Majority of their breaks that they are given (i.e. christmas, spring, and summer) are spent either going to workshops, grading papers, rearranging their class rooms and now they will be attending college courses. Teachers are in charge of at the least 20 kids a day, if they need time to plan to keep those children busy and productive then give them the time they need. Teachers arn't asking for sympthy, just enough time to get in the stuff that needs to be taught. Another question why would a teacher teach if she didn't care about children. All children are a pain the fact that they deal with 20 of them all at once, give it a try and see how you like it.

andisue 10 years, 7 months ago

i completely agree with hugedell and softtalker. thank you for saying these things! i'm not a teacher, but i work in a school. whenever i read these kinds of arguments before i worked in a school, i would tend to agree with the side that teachers don't need that much "time off." but now that i work in a school and see what teachers do every day, i know that is not the case.

according to the article, elementary teachers currently have 190 minutes of plan time each week. that works out to 38 minutes per day. planning time isn't a break. it is the only time during the day when they have a chance to do things that they need to do but can't when they're actually teaching. this includes but is not limited to writing lesson plans (which, by the way, is much more involved than you think), getting supplies ready, making copies, talking to parents, collaborating with other teachers, checking and writing e-mail. i'm sure teachers would tell you a million more things that they have to do during this time.

here is another way to think about it. in most jobs, you have time throughout the day to work on paperwork, make phone calls, respond to e-mails, whatever. all the maintenance work that comes with the job. if you think about other jobs, you definitely have much more than 38 minutes a day to do that work. so why would you think that teachers don't need that time?

LawSW 10 years, 7 months ago

Oh give me a break! Many of us out there have to continue our education to keep our jobs and licenses--on our own time. Oh, the "stress" of rearranging the classroom (read fun time, chatting with other teachers, "team-building"), oh please. Having worked in the classroom, I can tell you about all one-upping each other about their familes, the snacking in the break room/lounge, constant gossiping about the private lives of the student's parents (parents, did you know you are condescendingly referred to--not by your actual given names or last names--but simply as "mom" or "dad" as if you were said teacher's mom or dad) , the judgmental attitudes--I was glad to return to college where there were open-minded people to talk with vs. some of the ultra- conservative, cookie-cutter robots teaching our kids to conform at all costs. They want MORE TIME to "plan" while the parents of this district SPEND MORE out-of-pocket for DAY CARE THEY OTHERWISE WOULDN'T NEED every Wednesday because the teachers chose to inconvenience the families of this district--and now they want more, more, more. Outlandish!!!

multiagelearner 10 years, 7 months ago

WOW! These are the people that we trust our children with. And, might I add, for the majority of their days from age 5-17. As a parent and partner in my child's education, I hold the educators of my child as a little more professional than what "LawSW" is describing. Maybe it happened in the classroom you worked in, as you were part or all of the issue, but let's not speak to all teachers with that regard. It sounds like it was a good choice for all that you returned to the classroom. I certainly wouldn't want you near a classroom with my child in it.

multiagelearner 10 years, 7 months ago

Are these comments researched based? Is this the only job that you bash for having food in a break room and discussing personal views at work. I am sure the only judgemental people in the world are teachers. And, you forgot how they conspired with daycare providers when organizing plantime to truly inconvience and bankrupt parents. If you are collecting data, attend a collaboration meeting some Wednesday at a local school. Your research and attitude may change. Ph, and they are responsible for global warming.

andisue 10 years, 7 months ago

I would like to know if the people that have written so negatively about teachers have children and if they have home-schooled them? My guess is that you haven't. If you have such negative views about public schools, then why would you let your kids go there?

RightinLawrence 10 years, 7 months ago

When I was in grade school, some 30+ years ago, my teachers all talked about grading our papers at home in the evenings, were always around after school to provide extra help for students, etc. They loved their jobs and took real interest in the students and it was why they were teachers. It was their choice.

To teachers today, all we are saying is, "do your job and quit the constant whining". We all have challenges, but we deal with them. Can't you just do the same?

RightinLawrence 10 years, 7 months ago

Softtalk...My son is in high school, when we were going out of town, he asked for his assignments before we left so that he could work on them and not fall behind...he was told to check in when we returned because they didn't know what they would be doing.

I have asked for grade updates from his teachers each week; doesn't happen. Why you ask? They don't even have the work graded and entered into the computer. As a parent, I can't get his grades on an ongoing basis. I hardly can get an e-mail answered and returned; and I am a concerned and involved parent.

I have asked his counselor for assistance; he forgets to send call slips and even he cannot get the teachers to give updated grades.

In any other field, "professionals" with such poor performance would be out of a job...these folks want more time off, more money, and fewer demands from those paying their salaries.

It has become "all about them" instead of all about the students.

softtalker 10 years, 7 months ago

For starters this isn't even about Highschool teachers. This article is about elementary teachers that are asking to be put to the same level of planning time the highschool levels have. I have attended LHS for 3 years i know how their school system works, they had always been very adequate about call slips, failing grades, and responding to requests. Teachers are not always in the wrong here, I know I hold responsibility for taking grade slips out of the mail box, and lying to my parents about my teacher not entering the grades. You cannot always take the childrens sides. Try to balance 5 classes with 25 kids in them 5 days a week and keep up with the grade book every day. But no I do not think Highschool teachers need any more planning time BUT elementary teachers do.

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