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Longer Teaching Hours, Less Jobs Possible for District 186
Teacher layoffs within Springfield Public Schools are just months away if the school board agrees to tack on an extra teaching period for high school teachers.
More than 20 teachers would be laid off, and those still left would be asked to take on more. It's a move the district admits it doesn't want to make, but one it says it has to make.
Not everyone is pleased.
"We have a funding problem in Illinois with education," Springfield Education Association President Dan Ford said. "You know, in the perfect world I would like for [the current system] to stay. And I think it is what's best for kids."
But this isn't a perfect world. Springfield Public Schools are facing a $5.5 million deficit. And as the state continues to chip away at the funding promised to local school districts each year, interim Superintendent Bob Leming says they are left with one choice.
"Teachers teach one more [class]," Leming said.
Right now, high school teachers teach five periods. In addition, they have a preparation period where they can work on lesson plans and grade papers. They also have a collaboration period.
"I do believe that collaboration is very important, and unfortunately it comes down to a money issue, and I think it does affect students," Ford said.
Ford says the collaboration period is important to both teacher and student success. He says there has to be another way.
"It will end up in layoffs. When you take the collaboration period out and teachers are teaching more classes, they'll be need for less teachers," Ford said.
Leming does not dispute that, but he says the move would also save the district up to $1.5 million without changing students' schedules.
"We want to maintain the seven periods for the students, but the teachers are going to have to step up and teach an additional period," Leming said.
The only other option is returning to a six-period day, which Leming says would result in more layoffs and leave students with fewer choices for electives.
"This has to be done now, because we gotta start preparing students' schedules for the 14-15 school year," Leming said.
Officials say going back to that six-period day would result in more than 30 layoffs, and while they are steering clear of that for now, Leming says something else will have to give further down the road.
The school board is expected to vote on the change during their December 16 meeting. If it is passed, those pink slips would be sent out in March and become effective for the 2014-2015 school year.