Teachers at Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) will teach five classes daily each semester and have one resource center assignment for one class period daily for the rest of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
The Stevens Point Board of Education approved the change in workload Monday, Nov. 25, by two unanimous 9-0 votes after the issue came to the board without a recommendation from school administrators.
Board member Renae Sheibley asked district officials at the Oct. 14 meeting to have something proposed in November because district staff had failed to address the issue since it was first presented in June.
SPASH teachers pointed out that teachers were assigned six daily classes one semester and then five classes and a resource center assignment for one class period for the next.
As a result of the six classes, teachers pointed out that some teachers had 195, 190 and 175 students in their classes, plus no time in their schedule to meet with students, grade assignments or plan for future classes except on their own time.
“This is a tremendous help to students,” said Mike Devine, SPASH principal. “I think it’s the right way to go. I strongly support this.”
He said most schools have a preparation period for teachers to give them an opportunity to meet with students.
The plan will cost the district $107,011.18 for the second semester of the 2013-14 school year and then $260,579.65 for the 2014-15 school year.
Kehl Arnson, director of secondary education, said the plan calls for 21 teachers to be replaced for one class, and teachers relieved of the sixth class would be assigned to the resource center so students can go there for help.
The district will monitor the students and the program, he said.
Attila Weninger, superintendent of schools, said the district would need about a two-year time-span to see if those two years were successful in helping students.
“This was requested by the board but there is no recommendation because it came from the board,” he said.
Liz Anderson, a social studies teacher at SPASH, said things are going on for students who have a need for more time with teachers but teachers don’t have the time because of assignments. “There is only so much you can put on your employees before they break,” she said.
Glen Reindl, another social studies teacher at SPASH, said the district has gained about $1 million with the retirement of staff at SPASH and the district has responded to adding additional staff when requested for elementary and other school staff.
“When SPASH comes up, you say ‘how will we get anything to verify that?’” he said.
Board member Kim Shirek said the staff saved the district more than $1 million in insurance costs with Security Health through a participation plan and the district should reward teachers. “The money we’re spending should help our staff and students to be successful,” she said.
The district always helps out requests for elementary and junior high staffs, said board member Lisa Totten. “What do we have against our students at SPASH?” she asked.
Safety Cadet program
The School Board will wait until Jan. 16 before making a decision on providing funds for the Safety Cadet program in area schools.
The program has been in schools in Stevens Point, Plover, Whiting and Junction City for decades through funding by the Stevens Point Police Department, Plover Police Department and Portage County Sheriff’s Department.
However, Stevens Point cut funding from its budget in 2012 and Plover reduced the funding available for cadet rewards.
The district provides $333 to each school to recognize cadets for their services, but the rewards vary from building to building because of outside funding.
Bill Carlson, lead elementary principal, said there are 460 students in the program and it’s hard to support the program through donations.
Weninger said there would be inequity if the district funded the five city schools and left the other four to continue their existing funding.
Each school had been selecting 10 cadets to attend the Safety Patrol Congress in Wisconsin Dells at a cost of about $3,340 for all schools and $1,747 for the five Stevens Point schools. The entire program cost is about $6,800.
Larson said Stevens Point is dropping the ball on the program and questioned why the district should keep it going.