Fewer Janesville school layoffs expected

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Monday, April 25, 2011
— Some of the 125 teachers, counselors, librarians and others who received layoff notices earlier this month will not be laid off, Superintendent Karen Schulte said Sunday.

Schulte said the 50 teaching positions that were eliminated because of lower enrollments will remain eliminated. Prospects are good, however, that quite a few of the remaining employees, who were laid off for budget reasons, will be reinstated.

How many, which positions and who will get recalled remain questions, Schulte said.

Schulte said she’ll have a better idea after the board tells her Tuesday how much money she’ll have to work with.

“There’s a little bit of hope right now, but I cannot know until after this board meeting,” Schulte said.

Schulte did say she hopes to retain high school counselors, whom the original layoffs would eliminate.

Schulte said the 24 teachers who have announced retirements at year’s end will give a $750,000 boost to next year’s budget. Retirements were not yet known when the layoff notices were handed out.

The $750,000 is the cost of about 14 teachers.

If the board approves other spending cutbacks, more jobs could be saved.

Schulte also is considering what is sure to be a controversial way to save money. Last week, she told teachers who are facing layoffs that she might bring some of them back, but not as union members.

If those positions are not covered by union contracts, then the district could require them to pay 5.8 percent of their salaries for their pension contribution under the terms of Gov. Scott Walker’s state budget repair bill.

Teachers union President Dave Parr said the contract would not allow a counselor, for example, to be laid off as a union member and then hired back nonunion.

“We’re just really confused at this point as to what’s happening, so we’re very concerned,” Parr said.

Schulte said the idea is to restructure job duties so that a person who is a counselor this year, for example, would return with a different title and duties. Duties will have to be redistributed anyway because there will be fewer people to do the work, Schulte noted.

Parr said he would meet with union attorneys Monday to consider the issue.

Schulte said the union could challenge her legally, but she said these desperate times call for desperate measures.

The state budget, which will reduce school funding next year, was paired with the budget repair bill to give districts “tools” to recoup that funding. The tools require employees to pay their pension contributions and to pay more for health insurance, Schulte noted, but the Janesville teachers contract would keep that from happening until 2013.

Schulte called the idea is “a work in progress” that might not happen.

“We want to keep our good people,” she said. “We have many, many great people, skilled people,” but she has to balance students’ needs with the need to balance the budget.

“I’m not seeing a lot of options,” she said.

Last updated: 4:54 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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