Less Than Half of Maple Grove Regular Ed Teachers Will Keep Assignments
Only eight of 20 teachers will teach the same class in 2012-13 as they did last year, according to union president Kerri Jo Patten. But administration points out three more teachers remain at the school as part of a looping initiative.
More than half the teachers at Maple Grove Elementary School have new assignments for the 2012-13 school year. According to some, this is nothing out of the ordinary and will still provide the best possible learning environment for all students. Others say parents of Maple Grove should be concerned by all the departures and that the changes will disrupt the learning environment.
So which is it? It depends on whom you ask.
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At the Greenfield School Board meeting June 25, when a parent addressed the board and administration with concerns about turnover at Maple Grove, Superintendent Conrad Farner estimated eight of 24 teachers would have new positions within the district or not with the district at all starting in 2012-13.
However, teacher Kerri Jo Patten, president of the Greenfield Education Association as of July 1, said only eight of 20 regular education teachers at Maple Grove will be continuing in their assignments held during the 2011-2012 school year, according to memo emailed Greenfield Patch. The memo said 12 regular education teachers have been either reassigned (six), resigned (two), taken a year-long leave of absence (two), were non-renewed without cause (one) or retired (one).
When asked for confirmation from the district, Farner said of the 19 full-time regular classroom teaching positions (three each in grades kindergarten through fifth and one at the junior kindergarten level), at least 11 will be filled in 2012-13 by teachers who were at Maple Grove last school year.
He said no teachers at Maple Grove had their contracts non-renewed; instead, one part-time teacher who was hired to a limited-term, one-year, non-renewing contract is no longer with the district. He added that the formal renewal process only applies to full-time teachers.
Every grade level, according to Patten’s memo, from junior kindergarten to fifth grade will have at least one new teacher and four of the seven grade levels will have two, and all three sections of first grade will have different teachers.
Three of the teachers that have been reassigned were done so at Maple Grove, while the other three will be at different schools, including Patten, who is involuntarily switching from first grade at Maple Grove to seventh grade at the Middle School.
“What is most concerning for the 2012-2013 school year is that there are no veteran teachers filling the two 4K vacancies; there is only one veteran kindergarten and fifth-grade teacher; there are no veteran first-grade teachers; and there are remaining vacancies in three other grade levels,” Patten wrote in her memo. “On top of that, the students will have a new principal.
“That is an overwhelming amount of change for young children to respond to, especially for those who are now on their third principal in three years.”
Farner said Maple Grove’s situation is not all that unusual.
“Some years a building has many new staff, some years, a building may have very few additions,” he said. “It is typical to have to adjust to new teachers every year. Unless looping is well-established, parents and students are always expect a new teacher each year. Parents want and expect to have their children excelling in the classrooms of outstanding teachers, whether the teacher is in his or her first year or 30th year.”
Looping is a practice that keeps teachers with the same students for consecutive school years. Farner said teachers have been looping for years at Elm Dale and Glenwood and that the Middle School loops extensively between sixth and seventh grade and that the process is just now being implemented at Maple Grove.
Patten’s memo listed three teachers who were staying at Maple Grove but teaching other grade levels. The memo says all three are teaching the next-highest grade level, or possibly two grades higher than their 2011-12 assignment.
Farner said that as many as three or four teachers could be looping up with their students at Maple Grove, and the district anticipates more looping situations at other schools as well, but added it is premature to say for sure what the final staffing assignments will be.
As for the number of leaves and resignations at Maple Grove, Farner said those moves are common, especially in education and that a review of the last 10 years showed employee resignations across the district are averaging four fewer per year over the past five years compared to the previous five years.
“Many elementary teachers decide to have families and prefer to take time off from teaching while raising their children,” Farner said. “We also get resignations due to moving, due to a spouse’s transfer, the decision to move to administration or try a new career.”
As for Maple Grove’s transfers, which were brought to light by Patten’s public comments at the June 11 board meeting, Farner said of the school’s three teacher transfers to another school, one was voluntary, and that teacher had been at Maple Grove for just one school year.
“There are also about 11 other teaching positions at Maple Grove, so to have two transfers from a school of 30 educators any given year is simply not out of the ordinary and was never newsworthy before.”