Staffing of new schools to be underway in coming months

Published 10:16 pm Wednesday, January 24, 2018

In the coming months, staffing for the new Edna L. Toliver Intermediate and Mary G. Hogsett Primary schools will be set, Greg Schulz, a member of the elementary advisory group, told the Danville Board of Education Monday night as he presented the staffing model.

The Elementary Advisory Group was created to help with configuring the staffing of the new schools.

“There will be no layoffs, no reduction in force,” Look said. “We have worked hard to figure out how to preserve the dignity and respect of those who devoted their careers to the Danville Schools.”

Email newsletter signup

Beginning in fall of 2018, Danville will no longer have three elementary schools, but instead will have the Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School, serving second through fifth grades, and the Mary G. Hogsett Primary School, serving preschool through first grade. The current Jennie Rogers Elementary School will eventually become home to the central office.

Reviewing the staffing model for each school is a task usually given to the site-based decision-making councils at the respective schools.

Danville Superintendent Keith Look explained that the board was having to review these decisions because there are no councils established yet for the new schools.

“Folks are saying, why is there no SBDM? There’s no SBDM — the school doesn’t exist. How would you decide? You can’t have Hogsett K-5 SBDM making decisions for the pre-k, K-1 families at Toliver and Jennie Rogers,” Look said. “This is very typical for the opening of two new schools.”

Look admits it’s a tricky concept to wrap the mind around — Toliver Elementary and Hogsett Elementary currently exist, but the schools will not exist in the same format next year. Because of that, Look said, the Kentucky Department of Education views the schools opening for the 2018-2019 school year as brand new ones. That means no employees can be named before Feb. 1 and opening decisions that would traditionally fall on the school councils will fall on the board.

School officials discuss the number of people employed at a school in full-time equivalency numbers, meaning different jobs may represent fractions of a full-time-equivalent (FTE) position. Seven-tenths, or 0.7, is considered the minimum for a full-time job.

“We want as many full-time (positions) as possible,” Look said.

Look said ideally, everyone would be employed in full-time jobs equal to 1.0 FTE, but that’s not always possible. For example, getting a person to that number sometimes requires combining one job that counts as 0.7 FTE with another 0.3 FTE job. Sometimes, it also means that the district provides funding for 0.6 FTE of a job and the individual school provides the funding for the other 0.4 FTE.

“You can’t assume position and person are equal,” Look said to the board. That, he explained, is a misconception.

On Tuesday, Look said the plan was to preserve the staff that are currently in the district.

“They’re two new schools with the same old staff,” he said. “We have a responsibility for any tenured member to find them a position for which they are suited for.”

Look said the elementary advisory group regularly meets and consults with “the appropriate stakeholder group.” For example, when it comes time to establish the needs for the cafeterias, the food service director will be consulted.

“This transition was set in motion four years ago — it feels the most intense right now, but we have been working on this for four years,” Look said.

Ordinarily, the staffing season for schools kicks off in March. That’s when individuals who are non-tenured find out whether or not they will be let go.

“We’re trying to get ahead of it so we can follow the normal path for middle and high school,” he said.

Look said they plan to begin speaking with the staff in the three elementary schools in February, to start placing people in the positions.

“The goal is to let as many people know as possible by the first week of March,” he said. “We never let anyone know this early what their positions are for next year.”

He said the principals have been speaking with staff members about their plans and they have sent out letters to confirm who is returning.

“We are waiting to hear on those who are considering retirement,” Look said.

Due to the upheaval over pensions at the state level, he said there could be more retirees than the district might otherwise have expected. He said a few individuals might shift around from their normal role, but they are going to plan on keeping people where they are as much as possible.

“We want to make sure we have the appropriate balance of staff,” he said. For example, Look said, you don’t want all the male teachers in one school and all of the female teachers in another.

In some cases, they’ve been able to increase services provided to students, such as increasing the amount the district is providing for library services at both schools.

The site-based decision-making councils will resume the role of determining staffing for the following school year. Look said he hopes to have the councils in place by Thanksgiving.

“We can predict a lot. It’s a new school, some positions may need to be tweaked,” he said.

Kendra Peek/
Glitter Litter Crew, a group of students from Jennie Rogers Elementary that have formed to help maintain a litter-free, drug-free campus, were recognized at Monday’s board of education meeting.