Archive for Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lawrence school board agenda

March 11, 2007


Lawrence school board agenda highlights ¢ 7 p.m. Monday ¢ 110 McDonald Drive ¢ Sunflower Broadband Channel 26 ¢ Meeting documents online at

Bottom line

The board will decide whether Schwegler and Sunflower schools will become "neighborhood" English as a Second Language sites and whether the faculty at those schools will begin ESL studies during the 2007-2008 school year. The board also will consider a policy designating some schools as neighborhood ESL schools.


Demographic projections indicate that in five years the number of Lawrence students needing ESL services will nearly double, exceeding 1,000 students, said Bruce Passman, deputy superintendent.

Most ESL students had been going to Hillcrest School until this year, when Cordley School was designated as the second ESL cluster site.

Passman said new sites need to be selected before Cordley and Hillcrest approach or exceed their capacity. The district's ESL task force has recommended creating "neighborhood" sites, rather than cluster sites, so students can attend school close to their home.

The task force recommends that Sunflower and Schwegler become neighborhood ESL sites for 2007-2008. Sunflower has 65 English Language Learners in its boundary and Schwegler has 50 ELL students. Hillcrest and Cordley still will serve the remainder of the district.

Passman said the district hadn't spoken directly with classroom teachers at the two schools about the studies they would need to continue working at the school. But Passman said they would need to begin taking classes to become certified as ESL teachers. That would require them to take 15 credit hours of studies and three hours of student teaching over three or five years, he said. The district would pay for the education. Currently, teachers at Cordley are going through the same training process.

"We understand some of the teachers are very concerned about it," Passman said. He said some teachers might choose not to work at the schools.

"The important thing is we want all the teachers who teach in their building to continue to teach there," he said.

Other business

Consent agenda

Approve in one motion the following routine items:

¢ Minutes from the Feb. 26 regular meeting and executive session.

¢ Monthly treasurer, financial and monthly vouchers.

¢ Personnel report, which includes the following certified personnel matters:

- Early retirements: Linda Allen, Lawrence High School guidance counselor, 26 years; Carol Alvarez, interrelated resource teacher at West Junior High School, 17 years; Phyllis Anderson, second-grade teacher at Kennedy School, 19.5 years; Peggy Dey, districtwide school psychologist, 29 years; Linda Joler, interrelated resources teacher at Free State High School, 15 years; Janet Olin, English/German teacher at Central Junior High School, 31 years; Jacque Shipstead, kindergarten teacher at Sunflower School, 24 years; and Paulette Strong, principal at Quail Run School, 21 years.

- Regular retirements: Sharon Carlson, counselor at Pinckney School, five years; Juanita Decker, districtwide school psychologist, 15 years.

- Election: David Cunningham, division director of human resources for certified employees.

- Transfers: Robert Arevalo, from director of personnel to division director of human resources for classified employees; Kim Bodensteiner, from principal of Cordley School to chief academic officer; Ann Bruemmer, from director of arts and humanities to division director of curriculum services; Kevin Harrell, from assistant director of special education to division director of student intervention services; Paula Murrish, from director of food service to division director of food service; Mary Rodriguez, from executive director of human resources to chief operations officer.

¢ Participation in the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center (Greenbush) Purchasing Cooperative program.

¢ A sign to be placed on the grounds of Sunflower School and a fundraising effort to pay for the sign's $6,000 cost.

¢ Construction change orders at Central, West and Southwest junior highs.

¢ Purchase of furniture, fixtures and equipment for science classrooms at the junior highs and high schools of about $117,000 from three vendors.

¢ A board policy on computer use on its second reading and minor edits in several other board policies.


¢ Hear a report on a board policy about creating ESL neighborhood school sites.

¢ Hear a report about expanding the ESL elementary program to Sunflower and Schwegler schools.

¢ Hear a staffing and budget report for 2007-2008 and consider approving certified staff requests for 14.5 positions, costing $677,511.

¢ Hear a report on the Renzulli Learning Systems software for high-achieving students.

Executive session

¢ Go into closed session to discuss personnel.


birdstone 8 years, 6 months ago

I am deeply concerned about mandating that teachers either complete 15 credit hours of unpaid training or leave the school. I have extensive teaching experience at KU, and by my count committing to the successful completion of 15 credit hours would entail in the neighborhood of 240 hours of instruction (3 hours per week X 16 week semester X 5 courses) plus a min. of 3 hours per week of study time (though most experts recommend much more) for a grand total of nearly 500 hours of unpaid training. How many of us would be willing to offer our employers the equivalent of 12 full weeks of our time-without compensation-just to keep our jobs? We all should be asking why, if this poses significant challenges to teachers who are already overworked, the district would implement it? The answer, I'm guessing, can be found by following the money trail. Does the district receive more state or federal money if the school is certified as an ESL site? If so, why don't the teachers who have to sacrifice time from family and lesson planning get paid for their time?

pz5g1 8 years, 6 months ago

It'd be a tougher decision for older teachers but for younger ones it's a no-brainer. Get a very desirable extra endorsement paid for by the district. Very helpful should they ever go job-hunting, especially out west or in Florida or Texas. Plus it should move them up the salary scale; they'll get paid for it for the rest of their career. Those that don't want to do it will likely be allowed to transfer.

birdstone 8 years, 6 months ago

pz5g1. I agree with some of what you say, but how would you feel if your employer forced you to undergo 500 hours of training without paying you? Perhaps some would want the opportunity, but a one-size-fits-all approach seems ham-handed. What about those teachers who already hold a MA? I don't believe they would enjoy the bump up on the scale. Again, we should be asking WHY the district is interested in this certification. It is my understanding that if the district is able to certify the school as ESL certified they will get more money. If the district will benefit financially from the training, why shouldn't teachers? I love my job, but if my boss forced me to work 12 weeks without being paid, I'd find another job. That sends a terrible message to the wonderful people who dedicate thier lives to our children. IMHO.

pz5g1 8 years, 6 months ago

You can continue to bump up the pay scale beyond a Masters, like 60 hours or something. Great way to increase your salary without paying for it. Normally teachers have to pay for those hours that move them up the scale. Those closer to retirement would need to weight whether the pay off is worth it, and get transferred if not.

birdstone 8 years, 6 months ago

Pz5g1, it's true that these courses will allow teachers to move up the salary scale, but it will take two years of coursework to receive that raise (at 3 credits per semester). The raise in pay from a bachelor's to a bachelor's plus ten credits is about $750 (before taxes). That's about $62 a paycheck. The raise in pay from a master's to a master's plus ten credits is about $900. That's $75 a paycheck. I wonder how many teachers would "willingly" forgo valuable and often scarce time with spouses and children for $62 a month (before taxes) after two years? I certainly value my precious hours with loved ones beyond that. Perhaps it's different in your household. I can't imagine that there aren't other options out there for the district to consider than asking an entire staff to get ESL endorsements. It seems fairly obvious that they aren't because this decision is financially-driven, and not shaped by any real concern for either the health of students and staff.

birdstone 8 years, 6 months ago

Based on the figures contained in the above posts, if the district paid the teachers for their time (as all other employers would be legally compelled to do) at a reasonable rate of $20 per hour (not an outrageous sum considering that the average teacher has at least five years of higher education) the district would need to pay each teacher in the neighborhood of $10,000 (that's 500 hours of coursework and study time multiplied by $20 per hour) for their time to complete the training. If the district opts not to pay teachers for their time, at the rate increase of $62 per pay period a teacher would receive following his/her second year in the training, it would take in the neighborhood of 161 pay periods (or the equivalent of 13.4 years) for the teachers to recover their initial time investment. Would you accept such a business arrangement? Is that a "great opportunity" to move up the pay scale or an unfair business deal for teachers?

prioress 8 years, 6 months ago

In another generation, all teachers and administrators will be, at a minimum ESL licensed just to get a job; Spanish will likely be required as well. This is Kansas' future and we had better get used to it. The only significant inflow of people into Kansas for the past 30 years or so has been from south of the border.

birdstone 8 years, 6 months ago

Prioress is exactly right. So, lets dedicate the resources needed to prepare for this future without expecting teachers to bear the brunt of it. Expecting teachers to "pay up front" for an investment that won't even begin to pay dividends (and meager ones at that) for 13 years is neither fair nor wise.

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 6 months ago

birdstone wondered "How many of us would be willing to offer our employers the equivalent of 12 full weeks of our time-without compensation-just to keep our jobs?"

This is likely coming down the 'pike faster than we think. The advent of the "portfolio worker" gives corporations the opportunity to hire individuals for specific skills sets on a project or contract basis. If the skills sets become obsolete, the individual can be let go. Because the portfolio worker is acting as a contractor, that worker is responsible for continuing professional development that keeps his/her skills up-to-date, not the corporation. And once those skills are allowed to become out-of-date, getting another contract/job with another corporation will be difficult until those skills are upgraded.

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