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It's a layoff, not a nonrenewal

Semantics change reduces stigma

March 23, 2011 | 08:48 AM
Williams Bay — In order to spare seven teachers the stigma of the state nonrenewal process, the Williams Bay School Board in a special March 14 meeting approved an agreement with the Williams Bay Teachers Association to change the layoff process back to the one spelled out in the teacher contract.

Preliminary layoff notices will now be issued April 15 and layoffs won't occur until July 1, said Williams Bay Superintendent Fred Vorlop.

In late February, because of uncertainty over the effects of the new state budget and budget repair bills on teacher-school district contracts, the school board sent preliminary notices of nonrenewal to seven teachers as required by state law.

March 15 was to be the deadline for sending the final notices of nonrenewal.

Changing the layoff process doesn't take the seven teachers off the layoff list, but it will end the nonrenewal process, Vorlop said.

"Normally, the nonrenewals are done when districts are dissatisfied with a teacher's performance," Vorlop said.

When the board sent notices to the seven teachers, the school administration included a letter that said the district was not displeased with the job performances of the seven teachers, but rather, the move was a financial one.

Teachers receiving those preliminary notices were Buddy Breen, physical education instructor, football coach and assistant baseball coach; Hanna Coddington, first grade; Nancy McCabe, kindergarten; Dawn Raufman, third grade; Joshua Reed, high school technical education; Jessica Reinstad, second grade; and Gordy Roth, junior high school science.

But the nonrenewal action left a bad feeling among those on the School Board and on the school staff.

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With many Wisconsin school districts laying off teachers this year, Vorlop said teachers will be looking for jobs in a market that will probably be very tight.

"The job market is horrible. A lot of times on an application you'll be asked if you've been nonrenewed, and that's a kiss of death," Vorlop said.

"They're fine teachers," he said of the seven.

The seven teachers represent four full-time and three part time positions, or the equivalent of 4.6 full-time positions. The layoffs are necessary to help the district balance its budget for next school year.

With state-mandated cuts in aid and a reduction in school districts' revenue caps, Williams Bay may be facing even more cuts later on.

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In other business, the school board appointed a six-member committee to screen candidates for the high school principal position. The committee has two school board members, two teachers and two school district residents.

Long-time principal Dan Bice is retiring at the end of this school year.

On the committee are school board members Kim Travis and Cathy Butler, teachers Darla Thiel and Sue Leece, and residents Dr. Julie Byers and Dave Conrad, Vorlop said.

The application deadline was last week, There are 25 to 30 candidates.

"I'd like to see the principal hired by the April 11 board meting," Vorlop said, although he added that it's possible the actual approval of the new principal's contract may not be completed until May.

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Meanwhile, the School District and the teachers union is still technically negotiating a salaries for this school year on a re-opening clause in the teachers' two-year contract which expires in June this year.

Vorlop said the School Board and teachers met twice. No further negotiation sessions are scheduled.

Right now, the School District is waiting to see if state law will supersede negotiations, Vorlop said.

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Walworth County