The way a new policy seems to be taking shape in the Kenosha Unified School District, teacher seniority won’t be primary in determining who gets laid off.
The ad hoc Reduction in Force Committee met Monday night with the School Board’s standing Personnel/Policy Committee for the second time to finish presenting its rationale for considering other factors in determining layoffs before time on the job comes into play.
Under Wisconsin Act 10 — which gutted public employees’ collective bargaining rights — the district now needs a policy to govern layoffs, although no such action appears imminent, said Annie Petering, Unified’s chief human resources officer.
School Board member Mary Snyder said the layoff process would be initiated by administration before going to building principals. The onus would be on principals to designate particular staff members for layoff.
The proposal lists a number of factors that could be considered. Seniority would be on the list but only when those “identified for reduction” tied in all the other categories:
— Quality of service made to the profession and contribution to the school community beyond the classroom and the school system.
— Adaptability to other assignments — academic and extracurricular — holding additional certifications and/or licenses.
— Evidence of professional growth, as well as specialized or advanced training.
— Previous history of work assignments.
— Evidence of effectiveness in teaching and in related professional responsibilities, including documented concerns and discipline incurred.
Petering said Monday, if all things in those categories are equal, layoffs would be decided by continuous years of service, which could get right down to the date a teacher applied for a district vacancy.
Anne Knapp, president of the Kenosha Education Association and a longtime classroom teacher, took aim at those other factors.
“The district is proposing reduction-in-force (layoff) language that is heavily weighted on factors that discriminate against families and promotes heavy subjective principal influence,” Knapp wrote in an email message. “We believe that there should be a uniform and objective way to determine layoffs. ... In order to avoid this new policy from passing, we need to let the board know our displeasure with the proposed policy language.”
Superintendent Sue Savaglio-Jarvis said teachers who felt unfairly treated would be able to petition for redress under the district’s grievance policy.
Katherine Marks, a member of the Personnel/Policy Committee, asked Petering how the policy would affect recruitment of teachers.
“That’s why the policy is considering many other factors
the date of hire,” Petering told her.