Kevin Freeman responds to committee suggestions
Mexico Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Freeman is responding to recent recommendations suggested by the district's Welfare Committee.
Representative from the district's Welfare Committee went before the Mexico Board of Education recently, with concerns about teacher's pay and classroom needs. Superintendent Freeman responded to those issues at the April 8 school board meeting.
Following are the issues discussed by the Welfare Committee and the superintendent's recommendations:
1. A district the size of Mexico's has the need for more technology technicians, at least four more, for a total of six.
Freeman: The district will add one full-time support person this year.
2. Teachers currently have two personal days and nine sick days every school year, and the personal days roll into sick days. When the district adopted this policy teachers lost one sick day from the amount they previously had (10 days.) The teachers would like 12 days that could be used as needed. Any unused days would then roll over the next school year into accumulated "sick" days.
Freeman: "I recommend we restore one sick day back to all staff."
3. There are concerns in all the buildings about the temperature in the classrooms. The rooms range from freezing to some that are very hot. Teachers would like the thermostats to be adjusted so that each classroom is different.
Response: District Maintenance Director Mitch Ridgway said at the April 8 school board meeting that each room averages about 72 degrees and are adjusted regularly; and that his department does as much as possible to keep everyone happy. He also explained why it is "not feasible to try and keep 2,000 plus people comfortable." The school board also discussed concern and asked Ridgway to consult with Chevron about the issue.
4. With the week-long spring break being removed from the calendar for next school year the teachers would like the possibility of using personal days the day before, or the day after a four-day weekend. That is not an option at the current time, but being able to do so would allow the teachers to take a trip if they needed.
Freeman: "Sometimes one just has to say no."
5. Teachers in this district are continuously required to go to several meetings a week either before school or after school. The time spent in meetings take away from their time to work with students or plan for their classes.
They are also concerned that their time is spent in meetings so much that they don't have time to evaluate the data they have collected from their classes and use that to better themselves and the students.
Since teachers will be going to more full-day professional development days next year, the welfare committee proposes that the district take a look at the number of meetings that are being held in each building, and try to use some of the time during the full PD days for those meetings to allow more time during the school days for instructional prep.
Freeman: "Duly noted."
6. At the high school level teachers are being asked to cover other teachers' classrooms during their conference period because a sub was not available. That cuts down on the time a teacher can prepare for their classes. The welfare committee proposes that teachers not be used to cover other's classrooms unless in an extreme emergency.
Freeman: "Teachers are paid a stipend of $13.50 when they cover a class. It is simply not feasible to call in outside subs for one hour. We will try not use teachers to cover more than two hours, but sometimes it is necessary."
7. At the elementary level the classroom teacher has to help supervise recess duty. That shortens the time they get to eat lunch, and plan for classes. The welfare committee proposes that one extra aide be hired (to supervise recess duty) at each of the elementary schools.
Freeman: "Simply a matter of where we want to put our resources. There are valid instructional / supervision / management arguments for classroom teachers sharing playground duty. Also, recess aides are not commonplace. At most, or at least many, elementary buildings around the state there are no recess aides. Each building handles supervision differently, but in no building do our teachers have duty every day for both recesses all week. Each building has a plan and a rotation."
8. There is a concern on which administrator is in charge of certain staff if there are two building administrators in one building. Example Hart Career Center and MEC. The Welfare Committee proposes that a policy be written.
9. In regards to compensating teachers who have made the decision to invest their time and lives in the Mexico School District, and who are committed to being in their classrooms every day to teach the students. The sick leave policy states that a teacher cannot accumulate more than 100 sick days. The committee proposed three options.
Freeman: Anytime we talk about benefits for teachers we have to consider our support staff as well. We also have to consider feasibility. I think this item is something to be considered alongside No. 2 and No. 4, as they are all interrelated to some degree."