Archive for Friday, April 16, 2010

As many as 30 Lawrence teachers may not get new contracts for next school year

Positions would be eliminated as part of budget cuts

Lawrence school board members from left, Scott Morgan, Vanessa Sanburn, Marlene Merrill, Mary Loveland, Bob Byers, Mark Bradford and Rich Minder.

Lawrence school board members from left, Scott Morgan, Vanessa Sanburn, Marlene Merrill, Mary Loveland, Bob Byers, Mark Bradford and Rich Minder.

April 16, 2010


Lawrence school district administrators on Friday said they expected to not offer contracts next year to up to 30 teachers once they finish evaluating $4.6 million in cuts and staffing needs at schools.

But that number is still in flux as principals are making decisions for next year, said David Cunningham, the district’s division director of human resources for certified staff.

Up to 30 Lawrence teachers could be laid off

The district said because of the state budget crisis, 20 to 30 contracts may not be renewed. The decision will go to the board April 26. Enlarge video

The district did start notifying certified staff members last week. Chief operations officer Frank Harwood said the decisions are a mixture of budget-related cuts and the district’s annual evaluation process.

Due to the state’s budget crisis, board members in March approved cuts that included raising the district’s student-teacher ratio by one — meaning the district needed less teaching positions — and cutting programs like learning coaches that would force tenured teachers back into the classroom.

“The reasons that these things are happening have nothing to do with (teachers) not being effective or that the programs we have aren’t good,” Harwood said. “It all comes back to the budget.”

Board members and administrators had hoped attrition would account for most of the cuts, but they are working through a complicated process of moving teachers around the district. The need for more than a dozen learning coaches — who are tenured teachers — and other employees such as librarians to return to the classroom means they will bump out non-tenured teachers.

To attain tenure a certified employee must have served three full years in the district or two full years if they have tenure in another district.

School board president Scott Morgan said the job cuts were a reality due to the state’s budget crisis and decisions the board made.

“It’s not surprising. We had some hopes through retirements that he number could be kept smaller. The reality is it’s smaller than it would have been,” Morgan said.

This year Lawrence has about 950 certified staff members — mostly teachers but this includes other positions like counselors and librarians.

As of last week the district had more than 40 certified staff members who will leave the district next year either through retirement or to take other jobs. But district administrators said the process was complicated by having tenured teachers return to the classroom from programs that were cut, like the learning coaches or libraries.

The district has to place those experienced teachers in spots where they are licensed to teach, which causes the district to either shuffle teachers around or leaves a non-tenured teacher without a position.

“If that’s an opening that works out really well, but there weren’t enough of those places,” Harwood said.

Valerie Johnson-Powell, a Lawrence High speech pathologist and president of the Lawrence Education Association, said Friday she had heard from 23 teachers whose contracts won’t be renewed.

“If these young people leave and don’t come back in about 15 years, we’re not going to have a strong enough experienced teaching force. It’s worrisome,” Johnson-Powell said.

She said because some schools have several retirements and others don’t, dozens of teachers will be given an “involuntary transfer,” meaning they will teach in different schools in the district next year.

The LEA also plans to partner with the district and KU Credit Union and offer job skills training for teachers who are cut or retiring, Johnson-Powell said.

Board members are expected to take official action on not renewing contracts for the teachers at their April 29 meeting.


matthewjherbert 8 years, 2 months ago

at least you saved a bunch of old, energy inefficient school buildings because some neighbors complained they wanted their kid to go to the neighborhood school instead of the "other" school four blocks away. Idiots.

svenway_park 8 years, 2 months ago

credibility, from Paulette the Plaintiff??

SeaFox 8 years, 2 months ago

More likely they were complaining because they were afraid of their property values falling if the school closed. Having your house right by a school is a big plus when you sell your house.

"Location, location, location!", as they say.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 2 months ago

I hope you're being sarcastic. The schools in question are waaay more than 4 blocks away. You need to get a map and count (if you can) the number of schools EAST of Mass. street.

Nikki May 8 years, 2 months ago

I agree. I know several award winning teachers who aren't tenured. They may have to move on, but some that have "been there forever" aren't nearly as great, but get to continue on.

texburgh 8 years, 2 months ago

And these comments are based on what evidence? Oh, that's right, none. This is opinion. If you've got hard evidence - teacher evaluations by administrators for example - use it. Try to defend these opinions.

Kynsicat 8 years, 2 months ago

This sucks. My friend is an amazing teacher and she got cut simply because she was relatively new. She and her students are devastated. Not a wise choice, USD 497.

youngjayhawk 8 years, 2 months ago

I thought the community was told by district admin and SB that relatively few teachers would be laid off because a significant number of teachers were retiring. 20 - 30 teachers seems like a lot to me ... how sad for them and their families. The Lawrence community has been deceived once again. We should have heeded the warnings from Doll's previous district ... they tried to warn us. Our students continue to suffer.

ssakcaj 8 years, 2 months ago

Just because other districts are overpaying doesn't mean that we should.

If you hire a great teacher and pay them whatever you pay them and then they leave after one or two years, so what? If you paid them what they are worth for those two years and they gave you your money's worth, then it is a wash. Hire the next great teacher and move on.

coop2007 8 years, 2 months ago

The issue isn't other districts over paying. The teachers in Lawrence are under paid. Teachers barely make enough to get by. Most end up getting a second job to support themselves.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 2 months ago

What teacher starts at $38000? And believe me they work more than 9 months a year. What would be the proper amount to pay the person who helps to raise and educate your child?

weegee 8 years, 2 months ago

Your comment is not an informed one. Teachers choose how they get paid. Most of us choose to get our entire yearly salary in the 9 months period and then find jobs to supplement our income during that time off. And, by the way, it works out to be closer to 2 months off (once the professional development, winding down of the school year, and gearing up for the school year is figured in.

GardenMomma 8 years, 2 months ago

Agreed that it is closer to 2 months. All of June, all of July, and a week in May and August.

weegee 8 years, 2 months ago

As any knowledgeable manager/boss can tell you, it is far more beneficial to have experienced workers. A lot of time/effort/money/training goes into having tenured teachers. The enthusiasm of a new teacher is great. But there is a LOT to be said for any employee who has been through the "trenches."

wildcat86 8 years, 2 months ago

I will agree that it may be more beneficial to hire employees that have experience because it's less paid training, but you don't realize that in order to get that experience you have to start somewhere and work your way up. You aren't born with experience, and that's what seems to be the problem with employers these days. Also, college grads seem to be suffering the most, especially those who have gotten an education degree. There are fewer and fewer jobs out there that hire recent grads because they don't have that "experience".

weegee 8 years, 2 months ago

You misunderstood my point. I am saying that it is more beneficial to KEEP employees who already have other words, getting rid of teachers who have been around for awhile (2 years, 10 years, whatever) is NOT beneficial.

tomatogrower 8 years, 2 months ago

Why are you blaming the district? It's because those Republicans who handed out tax cuts this year want you to blame the district and not them. How on earth are they going to get reelected if they can't place the blame somewhere else. They are also going to pass a bill that will allow local districts to raise taxes to save the schools, then they can say that they didn't raise taxes, then they get reelected. Cowards every single one of them, but they will probably be reelected.

ConcernedAboutSchools 8 years, 2 months ago

I was wondering if I was the only person who saw that particular manipulation. It's a shame that so many people fall for it and continue to vote the republicans into office.

tomatogrower 8 years, 2 months ago

Really, lawrenceguy, do you really not know what caused this recession? Do you really not understand that it happened long before President Obama was elected? I understand all that investment, derivative finance stuff is really complicated, but we were ripped off by bankers, who really could care less about you, Kansas, kids, or the United States. Keep on trying to rewrite history. There are a bunch of tea bag supporters out there who have no education in the ridiculously complicated ways that the bankers got rich and destroyed our economy. It's just so much more simple to blame 1 person who wasn't involved with any of it.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 2 months ago

And McCain would have been better?! With Palin?! Go get your meds refilled.

dontcallmedan 8 years, 2 months ago

Republican strategy: make sure government (schools) doesn't work, say government doesn't work, get people upset because government doesn't work. Guy40 is a classic example of their success.

geekyhost 8 years, 2 months ago

I know it's not free. It's worth every penny, so raise our taxes already!

runningscooter 8 years, 2 months ago

I'm with you matthewjherbert. We've got buildings instead of teachers.

Liberty275 8 years, 2 months ago

I suppose laying off 30 teachers is better than every teacher taking a small pay cut.


Liberty275 8 years, 2 months ago

I agree. The administrators should have been the first out the door or at least forced to take an equal pay cut.

Regardless, teachers are going to lose their jobs. That's a shame.

Paula Kissinger 8 years, 2 months ago

So glad my son is graduating in 37 days and I won't have to deal with these fools anymore.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 2 months ago

Overland Park passed a sales tax increase to pay their teachers more a few years ago and it sunsetted. Now their budget GAP is 12 million. A raise is not normally a one time event, those one time events are called a BONUS.

SONS group got to keep their small schools, 30 teachers lost their jobs. Who is to blame???

Nikki May 8 years, 2 months ago

That's not entirely right. The class sizes were increased, meaning some schools who had 3 sections per grade, now have only 2 for a grade. They didn't lose any students. Instead of having 20 kids in 3 classes, it's 30 in two. (Which will average out district wide to 2 students per class).

Ann Hamil 8 years, 2 months ago

"If you hire a great teacher and pay them whatever you pay them and then they leave after one or two years, so what? If you paid them what they are worth for those two years and they gave you your money's worth, then it is a wash. Hire the next great teacher and move on."

Yet we can't apply this same philosophy to the so called Masters of the Universe bankers or CEO types right? It's not like teachers get to know their students or work with them or their communities over a period of years and those relationships mean anything right? Outsource teaching and human interactions--inputs and outputs, bean counting and efficiency is all that matters.

tomatogrower 8 years, 2 months ago

Yes, instead they give bankers retention bonuses, like there isn't anyone out there that could replace them. Our priorities are screwed up, and unless we change them the US will be fall down hard. Sad to see such a great country fail, but there are those out there who could care less about children's education. In the settlement days, one of the first things they would set up was a school, pooling their money. And states put their responsibility for education in their constitutions. Now that it costs more for a good education, they don't want the responsibility. Wimps and Cowards. That's our state legislature.

BruceWayne 8 years, 2 months ago

Worth repeating: • jkealing (Jonathan Kealing) says… bronze- I've warned you privately, now I'll warn you publicly. You do not have bearded_gnome's name correct. If you don't immediately cease to attempt to out an anonymous user, your account will be banned. In addition, I will immediately ban any account I suspect to be created by you without notice, warning or further cause. This is your final warning. Jonathan Kealing Online editor

––––– How has paulette2 lasted this long Jonathan?

PennyBrite 8 years, 2 months ago

It is sad too that we all know the teachers who don't get renewed probably won't get a new teaching job within driving distance of Lawrence. It's my understanding that all school districts around here are having budget problems and are not hiring teachers.....I wish the best to every single one of them.

Kevin Randell 8 years, 2 months ago

So does this mean when I come up in the fall for a football game I will have 30 more people on Mass. St. asking me for money?

Kyle Chandler 8 years, 2 months ago

We wont less taxes!

I hate getn only 2 thousand sum dollars for the kid i had

Who cares about lurning!

Im gonna tea bag myself to freedom!

Barry Ohbamma sponisible

yesm sure is

(turns and kisses cousin/wife/fellow depublican conservative)

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 2 months ago

While the budgets did increase during those years. Schools closed in 2003.

In 2005, the teachers raises costs the district 8.1% more than previous year

The school board voted to reduce class size, thus hiring more teachers.

Didn't the funding go up also?

Jaylee 8 years, 2 months ago

This town has 20-30 times the educational plethora of things to be involved in and learn than my hometown. It is one of the reasons I love this community. People actually care about education to the point that they get something done about it rather than only complain about impending dooms lurking in the future that inevitably come to the communities who don't care enough.

I hope this does not happen.

svenway_park 8 years, 2 months ago

Money spent on buildings isn't spent on teachers.

Did_I_say_that has multiple times posted a false choice suggesting that by closing schools in previous, that overall district expenditures should have been reduced.

That is like suggesting that because I have reduced my auto insurance by 10% or put CFC bulbs in my house that my household expenditures are supposed to go down.

It is a comparison bankrupt of any intellectual honesty.

Katara 8 years, 2 months ago

It certainly it a false choice. It also makes the huge assumption that by saving in one area, automatically you can save in others as if other expenses don't increase. He also makes the assumption that other factors don't come into play such as the legislature slashing the education budget even further (and they will once they have succeeded in transferring the burden of educational expenses to the local communities while bragging how much they saved tax payers).

Instead of focusing his energy on the root of the problem (addressing the ones in Topeka who are responsible for all the cuts), he'd much rather rail against local Administration as if firing Dr. Doll or any of the others would actually have any impact. I seriously doubt that he (much like Merrill) has any clue as to what the administration does daily. The unreasonableness extends to inability to understand that one can not fix problems that have been brewing for at least a decade, if not longer, in less than 1 year. The expectation that there should be a miracle worker out there to save us is unrealistic. Long-term solutions require long-term strategies. They don't happen overnight as much as we might wish it too.

Katara 8 years, 2 months ago

Yet another false choice - that eliminating 12 administrative positions would save 30 teaching jobs.

First, you assume that some of those teaching jobs would not have been eliminated anyway. For example, they are cutting German classes so obviously the German teachers (unless they have other qualifications that allows them to pick up teaching other classes) are going to be losing their jobs.

Second, you add to others' workload by eliminating those positions (you have yet to tell us why they are not necessary). While it is to be expected that an increase generally in all workers workload due to any cuts, I don't think you have thought this one through.

If one of the administrative position involves grant writing, you will have to find someone to pick that up who is equally qualified to do that job or risk losing out on grant monies due. Another option would be to have the teachers that would benefit from whatever grant that is being applied for to do that work. Do you want the teachers adding even more to their workload with the result being less time devoted to the education of kids?

It is interesting that you keep pointing to the state average of district administrator ratios. You do understand what an average is, correct? It certainly does not imply that it is the ideal amount to have. Why do you assume the average is best for this?

Katara 8 years, 2 months ago

Oh how funny! Watching out for the most vulnerable, eh? That's rich. When you start framing your argument that way, you are making this an emotional issue rather than a logical one. That is incredibly manipulative and interestingly enough the same type of tactic you accuse the district of using.

You make a big mistake in assuming I am defending administration. I choose to be informed before I decide to start chopping (you have yet to explain to us why 12 administrative jobs are not necessary or how their duties can be picked up by others or for that matter how that would positively impact children you claim you defend) but then I am not surprised. You present all either/or situations. You do not consider other factors at all. You make this a black and white issue when it is clearly not.

Yet Another false choice that you present... the interests of the administration or the interests of the children. Such bunk.

Katara 8 years, 2 months ago

False choice is not a buzz word. It is exactly what you present to us. See my above response.

It is interesting how you describe how the work to a degree falls upon his assistants. You cannot quantify this to a degree for us so that we can make the determination if this is a needed job or not. I still am of the belief you honestly have no idea what these 12 jobs entail other than you believe them to be supervisory and apparently believe that they are paid too much. It is a little difficult to make the claim that they are overpaid (or highly compensated in your words) if you don't know what they do.

I would also suggest that you learn what an actual strawman argument is instead of tossing out the phrase trying to sound as if you are versed in logical thinking.

It is certainly possible that those types of duties can & will be farmed out to the teachers. I really don't think you clearly understand how much workload the classified personnel already carries. These things are germane to the discussion.

There was no discounting the work of other teachers. It is a given that when positions are eliminated, the remaining folks must pick up the work but to make the assumption that it is only teaching work that will be picked up by the remaining teachers and not any administrative duties is a bad one.

It is funny how conspiracy oriented you are. The German teacher elimination = moving kids to the high school. If that is the case, wouldn't it make more sense to claim one has to eliminate a non-elective to force the issue?

You can keep your false choices, emotionally manipulative appeals and conspiracies; I will continue to look at facts, explore options and search for long-term solutions to our long-term problems.

Katara 8 years, 2 months ago

Yup, you can't answer any of the questions or actually refute my points so you whip out the measure of last resort.

How about this? Learn what work is actually done by administration. You know, actual details of the day to day work and then (gasp!) base the decision as to whether or not to eliminate those positions rather than just assuming that they are overpaid or not worth the money spent on them just by looking at a number & deciding it is too much because it is more than you make.

If they turn out to be duplications of work already performed or duties that can be shared by another position, THEN reduce the number of administrative positions.

svenway_park 8 years, 2 months ago

Money spent on buildings isn't spent on teachers.

Did_I_say_that has multiple times posted a false choice suggesting that by closing schools in previous, that overall district expenditures should have been reduced.

That is like suggesting that because I have reduced my auto insurance by 10% or put CFC bulbs in my house that my household expenditures are supposed to go down.

It is a comparison bankrupt of any intellectual honesty.

Kevin Randell 8 years, 2 months ago

Ok....quick math.... 30 teachers @ 35K a year is roughly 1.05 million dollars. That averages out to about 10-20 dollars each per resident here in Lawrence. So.....get out your cash!!! We can do it! I will chip in a $100 to make up for 5 or so people who would rather stay on here and gripe rather than actually DO something!

Kevin Randell 8 years, 2 months ago

And watch that money go to "administration fees"? I want to make sure it WILL go to paying a teacher's salary for at least one more year. But thank you for suggesting the link.

GardenMomma 8 years, 2 months ago

Sadly, I don't think you are able to donate to pay for salaries...Capital outlay - just fine. Crayons, paper, and computers - just fine. Salaries - big no-no. You might be playing favorites.

volunteer 8 years, 2 months ago

I recognize that teachers have to be notified of possible non-renewal by a certain date, but has Dr. Doll ever mentioned which highly paid central office Administrative positions he was was eliminating or combining?

Patty Buchholz 8 years, 2 months ago

I think teachers contract calls for working 187 days a year and I believe administrators work 260 per year. Really, it isn't bad, teachers get 2 weeks at Christmas, 1 week spring break and other holidays. I think we all make choices. There are so many folks without jobs here in Lawrence and around the country that I don't understand the whining about teacher's salaries.

weegee 8 years, 2 months ago

This article isn't about teachers whining about salaries. It is about teachers losing jobs.

mr_right_wing 8 years, 2 months ago

We need to terminate 30 teachers...see ya!!


we gotta fix up the library! It has to be done now!!


mr_right_wing 8 years, 2 months ago

I had the feeling someone was going to throw that one out there. My friend, both depend on your and my tax dollars. We're not talking 'apples and oranges' we're talking 'apples and apples' it's just the two are 'picked' differently.

School district v. City = cash out of our wallets

yankeevet 8 years, 2 months ago

Is seems the sports people; ie; basketball; football; etc are treated much better then teachers in this town.

KSManimal 8 years, 2 months ago

Anyone upset with the current budget problems in this and other Kansas school districts should aim their wrath towards Topeka, under that big green dome.

Tax cuts and exemptions handed out like candy over the past ten years have shorted the treasury over $9 billion. That's billion, with a B.

If the whack-jobs had restrained themselves to handing out a mere $8 billion instead, we would have a $500 million SURPLUS right now instead of being in the crapper.

Healthcare_Moocher (anonymous) says…

"Tenure tends to retain some that should not be there. Retention should be performance based.

Another example of how unions protect some that could not make it somewhere else."

Moocher, you're wrong. Check this out:

deskboy04 8 years, 2 months ago

How much does the food service director make?

George Lippencott 8 years, 2 months ago

Well, We kept the small schools open - until next year!

George Lippencott 8 years, 2 months ago

I stand corrected. After all who cares about people! We will get more tomorrow. Keep the small schools open.

I am not buying the garbage about large schools - they will stay open but next year something will have to give! I know we will fire more teachers so east Lawrence can have low P-T ratios.

guess_again 8 years, 2 months ago

"It was never a choice between closing schools or laying-off teachers."

Oh, half-full buildings and half full classrooms cost nothing to operate. In other words: Bravo Sierra

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