By LANCE MIHM
ST. MARYS — School board members on Thursday approved
changes to the seniority policy for teachers, which has been
a hot topic since the board began cutting staff to offset a
The changes affect teachers who are certified to teach in more
than one area. The old policy said in order to retain seniority,
a teacher must have taught in that subject area at least three
of the last five years. The new language allows teachers to
retain seniority as long as they taught in that subject area
any time during the past 10 years.
This allows teachers who are cross-certified to change teaching
areas to gain more seniority.
“It could potentially have an effect if we don’t
have a high enough attrition with the closing of Moulton and
the staff reductions,” Assistant Superintendent Todd Yohey
said. “It will depend largely on if we have any teachers
retiring or taking jobs elsewhere. Hopefully, we won’t
have to use it.”
Last month, board members agreed to close Moulton Elementary
School at the end of the school year to offset a budget deficit
and have said they may have to close Noble Elementary School
if the budget keeps spiraling downward. Board members have made
$3.6 million in cuts since last July and said they will be forced
to cut another $5.1 million if a 7.9-mill property tax levy
fails March 2.
Cuts made so far include the elimination of approximately 5.6
teaching positions and another 11.5 teaching positions would
be cut if the levy fails, the board has said.
School board member Craig Gottschalk said the teacher reduction
policy change was a joint idea by school administrators and
Gottschalk and Yohey were not aware of any teachers immediately
affected by the change in policy. Joann Liming, a guidance counselor
and president of the St. Marys Teachers Association, could not
be reached for comment this morning.
The policy also allows for the superintendent to require a teacher
to take additional coursework or the Praxis II exam (teacher
licensing exam) if they are switching teaching areas and had
not taught in the field in the last 10 years.