GLADSTONE - The Gladstone School Board approved a staffing plan Monday, which would allow for some of the teachers recently laid off to be recalled.
Due to budget issues related to an arbitration case involving the Gladstone Education Association, four full-time teachers and one part-time teacher were placed on layoff at a special board meeting on May 30. The special meeting was held to address the layoff issue, which failed to reach a quorum at the May 21 regular meeting.
"We have a little bit more knowledge of where we are budget-wise, with the arbitration case and so on," said Linda Howlett, Board Secretary.
The new staffing plan fills three kindergarten positions with one staff member from the May layoff and two staff members from last year's layoff. "We also looked at recalling one full-time teacher and one two-fifths teacher that were put on layoff in May and then a partial recall of another, leaving us with going down from eight on layoff to having one teacher on layoff," said Howlett.
The delay in issuing layoff notices caused by the failed quorum may have affected the recalls.
"I'm not very happy that we're letting go of an effective teacher who has been with the district for 16 years and hiring on two people back to the district who are qualified in the same area he's qualified with," said Board President Jeff Deacon.
"Especially when we didn't let that teacher know, officially, he was going to be laid off until after we'd closed the deadline for applying to those kindergarten positions," he continued.
Pending the arbitration case, it still may be possible for all laid off staff members to return to work. "The individual that's not being called back, we can still call that person back at anytime if numbers change," said Paul Capodilupo, board vice president.
Because the recalled teachers will be filling different roles than before the layoff, there is still an overall reduction in staffing. That reduction may cause as many as 10 special education students at the high school to be assigned to the caseloads of teachers who do not work in their building.
"It's not unheard of that someone is on a caseload in someone else's building. It's unusual for us," said Superintendent Jay Kulbertis. The number of students on a teacher's caseload is regulated in part by the ISD. District-wide there is enough caseload space for all of the affected students.
While communication between special education students and the teacher responsible for their casework is encouraged, it is not necessarily a daily occurrence. "We have students at the high school who are one teacher's caseload and they don't see that teacher as a classroom teacher for the whole year," said Kulbertis. "In terms of casework, you're responsible for paperwork."
Teachers with special education student caseloads may also be involved in providing consultations, evaluations, and providing instructional services to students. "It doesn't make any sense to me to expect middle school teachers to plan for high school kids when they aren't there, don't know the high school program, don't know the kids because they've never met with the kids," said Richard Anderson, board trustee.
Also discussed in relation to the staffing plan was the class moving into seventh grade. Last year, that class was overloaded, and this year two new sections are being added to compensate for the size of the class and the number of avalible teachers.
The new staffing plan and associated teacher recalls were passed 4 to 3 by role-call vote. Dissenting were Jeff Deacon, Richard Anderson, and Board Treasurer Ryan Lyle.