C-L superintendent addresses staffing

By Brett Kriebel

CLARION NEWS Writer

STRATTANVILLE

During its Aug. 21 meeting, the Clarion-Limestone school board members considered and approved a multitude of contracts and hires.

Athletics, class size and structure, the replacement of unfilled teaching positions and ongoing contract negotiations with the district's support staff were also broached during the three-hour meeting.

Unfilled positions

To give context to a decision to replace only one of three teachers who had either retired or left the district, District Superintendent Amy Glasl addressed the audience on-hand through a presentation of figures on a whiteboard, illustrating why two of the three positions were left unfilled.

Glasl began the presentation by saying the simplest choice would have been to simply tell the board the district would be hiring new teachers, but it might not have been the most prudent course of action.

"That is not what I was hired for," Glasl said. "I was hired to be the superintendent and leader of the school district, educationally and fiscally. In my experience, this is my 32nd year of it, I've done this a lot and they're hard decisions but I've watched other good superintendents make good decisions.

"I'm not saying my decision is going to end up being the right one, but if it isn't I will admit it in public that it was not a good decision."

Glasl showed the average class size of each grade in the elementary school.

The averages included 16 in kindergarten, 14 in first-grade, 15 in second-grade, 22 in third-grade, 18 in fourth-grade, 20 in fifth-grade and 18 in sixth-grade.

Figures during the presentation indicated there were 453 students and 26 teachers during the 2018-2019 school year.

In a separate column, Glasl showed a total of 468 students and 25 teachers for the current school year. Glasl also revealed the average class sizes for the year, showing 15 in kindergarten, 18 in first-grade, 18 in second-grade, 21 in third-grade, 22 in fourth-grade, 18 in fifth-grade and 20 in sixth-grade.

"Looking at those numbers compared to what we've had, they're very similar," Glasl said.

The superintendent went on to note the total enrollments within the elementary schools are rising, so the addition of a teacher in the future is very possible.

"I'm not doing this because I want to hurt anybody or be this powerful superintendent," Glasl explained. "I'm doing it because the numbers are there and knowing that for this year, we can manage this. It's reasonable."

As for the decision not to replace a high school teacher who had retired, Glasl said the choice was based on the transfer of an English department teacher onto the social studies staff.

With the changes made, Glasl said she ran a scheduling report, which indicated 99 percent of C-L High School students would receive their required classes.

High school principal Mel Aaron indicated the remaining one percent covered students with IEP's, who receive unique schedules.

The report also showed 57 percent of students would receive the electives they had chosen.

"No electives were lost by doing that," said Glasl. "There were two already that had zero kids in it. Those were the only two that showed zeroes again, so there were no electives lost."

Language Arts Chair Marissa Widmer spoke to the numbers presented, saying the district had lost two consumer science teachers, a high school librarian, a language teacher and a reading specialist since she had started teaching in the district during the 2007-2008 school year.

"We do not have a reading specialist in the high school at all," said Widmer. "Once students with those needs come over from the elementary, that need is never met again. (The English department) has been grandfathered in to teach them reading skills which none of us have a certification or specialty in. Once they hit ninth-grade all that support leaves, so you've got students who aren't reading at grade level."

Glasl said she and Aaron had spoken about filling the reading specialist position.

"We will keep asking and we will support that 100 percent," Widmer answered.

The board discussed a question of whether the high school's currently vacant agriculture teacher position would be filled.

The board indicated it had advertised for the position and reached out to several colleges, but could not find qualified candidates in time.

Still, the district is interested in finding a replacement.

"I really feel that is so important in our school district," Glasl said. "It's going to continue to get bigger with the way the government is providing for farmers and those types of things."

Aaron reiterated Glasl's comments, saying administration had been in contact with an unnamed individual associated with the district who expressed interest in helping to fill the position

Aaron indicated the district is exploring how it would go about implementing the individual into potential plans.

The individual's current schedule would only allow for two full days of instruction per week.

"He's helped us out in other aspects," Aaron said. "Not in this capacity, but I think he understands he's a patch for us. He's here to give us some time to get a December graduate. This person has worked with our boys and girls in the program. They know him by name. If it works out, he would be very valuable."