Lawrence Public Schools cut 72 teaching positions; will add a third Montessori classroom – The Lawrence Times

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Staff share new information on multigrade classes

Updated article at 11:18 p.m. Monday, May 23:

The Lawrence School District has cut six dozen teaching positions, 11.5 classified staff positions and 6.5 district-level administrator positions, according to a staff presentation Monday night.

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The school board made budget cuts of approximately $6.41 million this spring. The board gave guidance to staff on where to make cuts, but allowed staff to make decisions about which specific positions would be cut and in which buildings.

“Two-thirds of this $6.4 million reduction was to be reduced from the current staffing,” Kristen Ryan, executive director of human resources, told the board. “The reduction process, as I’ve shared before, was sensitive, difficult, and an ever-changing puzzle.”

She said HR staff had tried to help staff members find “a new, better candidate if their position had changed”.

“Cuts have been made by retirements and exits,” Ryan said. “We did not have to use our downsizing policy, and teachers whose positions were reduced were given the opportunity to be transferred to vacant positions before those positions were opened up to external candidates.”

The presentation did not include figures to indicate how many staff had resigned rather than being transferred to vacant posts.

“We did an exit survey for our departing staff and we increased exits due to fear of the unknown, salary, job satisfaction, workload, leadership, of relocation,” Ryan said. “These are some of the high-level topics that were repeated throughout the investigation.”

Montessori Curriculum Update

Staff also provided an update on the Montessori program coming to New York Elementary this fall.

With updated numbers for projected enrollment, district staff members told the board there would be enough students to fill three Montessori classrooms instead of the two originally planned.

The presentation to the board showed that 62 students – 34 kindergartens within New York limits, 20 3- and 4-year-olds and 8 kindergarten transfer requests – are expected to enroll. Without adding another classroom, there would be a waiting list of nearly two dozen students that Superintendent Anthony Lewis said the district would likely lose to private schools if they couldn’t enroll. This year.

Lewis told the board that generally the district would simply add an additional full-time teacher when needed and would not need board approval to do so. Since the Montessori program is new, the staff wanted direction from the board.

Cynde Frick, executive director of finance, said for this year the district could meet the additional $97,500 for an additional Montessori teacher and teaching assistant, plus $24,000 for classroom supplies, furniture and upholstery. floor. The funds will come from vacant positions. Next year, it will have to be integrated into the ordinary budget.

Once staff confirmed that the additional cost would not have to come from funds the school board had set aside to provide salary increases, the board agreed to add another classroom – although the Council member Carole Cadue-Blackwood noted that she agreed “with concern”. ”

Multigrade classes

After Monday’s budget update, it was still not entirely clear which teaching positions would be cut and how it would affect course options for secondary school students. However, Leah Wisdom, director of education and professional development, said the majority of job cuts were at the elementary level.

The main reason for this is that the district will be using multigrade classes next year.

Wisdom said there was a plan in place to support teachers.

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A sub-committee of art, music and physical education teachers was recently set up to address concerns about the operation of a multigrade model in these special classes. Another sub-committee includes some learning coaches and some teachers who will have multigrade classes next year. They’re trying to get ahead of challenges and share resources before August, Wisdom said.

“What they really identified was the need for teachers teaching at multiple levels to be able to effectively use curriculum, standards and resources across both levels,” Wisdom said.

There will be two dates for summer professional learning where multigrade teachers in the district will get resources and training and have time to plan their lessons together. They will then assess additional needs at the end of the summer.

Additionally, multigrade teachers in the district will have the opportunity to collaborate virtually and in person throughout the year. This will allow them time to debrief, share ideas and ask questions, Wisdom said.

Not all elementary schools will have multigrade classes, as some use federal funds to add sections and reduce class sizes, Wisdom said. And depending on how enrollment numbers and staffing decisions change, families may not be notified until August if their children will be placed in multigrade classes.

Board member Kelly Jones raised concerns about the timeline. She said she knew staff would handle parents’ concerns well, but “it seems a bit late in the game to let a parent know, especially if their student – that’s just not a good match for them.” . For them to make changes is terribly late.

Families of students can refer to the parent’s guide, which includes a QR code to scan for more detailed information on the district’s website to learn more about multigrade classrooms for their children. Lewis said he and the council would be more intentional about directing parents to this website in the future.

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Equity reporter Maya Hodison(her) can be reached at mhodison(at)lawrencekstimes(dot)com. Read more about his work for The Times here. Check out his staff biography here.

Mackenzie Clark (her), journalist/founder of the Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com or 785-422-6363. Read more about his work for The Times here. Check out his staff biography here.

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