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Dist. U-46 report ignites split vote, confusion

By Seth Hancock
  A vote on a personnel report and workers’ compensation cases created some confusion about the way some new hires were classified.
  The Board of Education approved that item via a split vote, 4-2, at its meeting on Monday, Nov. 19. Board members Phil Costello and Jeanette Ward voted no, and John Devereux was absent.
  The item lists employees under certain categories (leave of absence, return from leave of absence, notification of employment, resignations and retirements) and under separate categories of personnel (administrative, certified, classified).
  Both Costello and Ward have opposed the report on previous votes when it included new positions under the notification of employment, which this report included.
  Ward said: “This includes a new position, and as I have stated before I don’t agree with expanding our operations while enrollment is declining.”
  The Fiscal Year 2019 budget, approved in September via a 4-2 vote (Costello and Ward no, Devereux absent), hiked spending by $40.2 million with an increase of $21.9 million in salaries and benefits alone. That included 54 new positions despite a projected 1.9 percent decline in enrollment this year, a trend over the last three years and projected to continue for the foreseeable future.
  Further discussion showed some confusion.
  Costello said he would vote no along with Ward but clarified that the report included three new positions, not one as implied in Ward’s statement.
  U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said: “Unless I’m missing something I see one, a new position for multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) which is a certified teacher position.”
  Ward and board member Sue Kerr, after reviewing the document, saw the three new positions (all under MTSS) listed which Sanders then saw and said that was “correct.”
  Kerr asked for a clarification on what the positions were to which Sanders said: “These are actually the non-union MTSS positions.”
  Josh Carpenter, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said: “Interventionists are hired at a few of our buildings, and I believe this is a replacement position or a position that hasn’t been filled yet.”
  Sanders said the way the report is coded could affect how they show up in the report and added: “We can find out if these were replacement or new positions. They’re listed as new positions but it could be, I don’t know if it’s because of the increase in Title I sites.”
  Ward said in the future she would like a more detailed description for any new position on the report prior to a vote.
  “If indeed they’re replacement and not new positions, then that changes my vote,” Ward said. “So I’m voting on what I see here which says three new positions.”
  To understand further how the report is made and coded, Costello asked a hypothetical question. He presented an example of dropping a special education position but adding an MTSS position and asked: “How would that be described in this report if that were the case?”
  Sanders said that would be a question that needed to be answered by the human resources department.
  “We have a position control person who does monitor every position in the system,” Sanders said. “So if somebody vacates a position and that position remains open, then it’s coded and we know that it’s a replacement. If it’s a classroom-based position that’s in a classroom, typically those are always listed as a replacement. On these, we will have to do a little more research and get back to you.”




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