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02-13-04: St. Marys board changes teacher seniority policy


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 budget deficit.
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 teachers.
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.


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