As of Wednesday, March 20, the Lennox School District has rescind all RIFs. Hurray! But how? Why?
In its own words, the district has made a commitment to “keep cuts away from the classroom” and had initiated a major reorganization of the district office and its management structure. Beginning next school year, it will downgrade 3 Assistant Superintendent positions to Directors who will receive less pay and less benefits than the current Asst. Supes. It has also UPgraded one Asst. Supe. (Business) to Deputy Superintendent; that position was vacant and in now filled filled Kent Taylor as Interim Deputy Supe. It is also planning to consolidate a number of program director and coordinator positions into the new Director positions, particularly the Director of Instructional Services, arguing that in other districts of similar size, these functions are handled a single person. A number of secretarial positions will also be downsized or eliminated.
The above cuts and consolidations are generally in line with Association concerns that, over the past few years, while student enrollment has declined and cuts have been made to teachers and staff at school sites, the district bureaucracy has grown. Other parts of the restructuring program are a bit more worrisome. A number of “Teachers on Special Assignment,” including all Staff Development Specialists, will be moved back to the classroom next year. None will lose their jobs, but there is a great deal of concern among classroom teachers about what support structures will take their place and who will handle the myriad responsibilities the TOSAs handled? Teachers were not involved in making decisions about these cuts, but teachers MUST be involved in the next steps of the district’s plan about what support structures take the place of the TOSAs, and we WILL be part of the discussion, whether invited (hopefully) or through organizing and action (if necessary).
But regardless of opinions about the district reorganization plan, on behalf of the Lennox Teachers Association, I’d like to thank the School Board, the Superintendent and district staff who have worked to make rescinding the RIFs possible. After years of positive experiences with the Class-Size Reduction and QEIA programs, we all recognize that students learn better in classes with smaller numbers of students. This decision on the part of the district allows us to continue participation in both of these programs, to the benefit of students, teachers and the community. We are obviously pleased, as well, that none of our permanent teachers will be laid off this year. We look forward to continuing to work with the district to find ways to retain our amazing temporary contract teachers and to help develop a new model for supporting students and teachers as we reach new heights of success and tackle the challenges to come.
President, Lennox Teachers Association