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Some 60 Valley View teachers, support staff could be laid off next year

Valley View District 365U officials agreed to a procedural measure that will inform 500 teachers and support staff that they may lose their jobs.

But Sharon Hawks, executive director for human resources for the Romeoville-based district, said at Monday’s school board meeting that the severest projections for layoffs would be about 30 regular teachers and another 30 education support personnel employees for the 2012-13 school year.

The district – which is waiting for almost $9 million in back payments from the state – is taking the step as a cost cutting measure, but the cuts are also tied to the implementation of new curriculum at the district, according to officials. Hundreds of teachers and parents attended the board meeting on Monday with most opposing the layoffs and the implementation of the new curriculum.

Three weeks ago, the school board voted to halt the cuts at the request of the union to explore cost-cutting measures with the board first. Vickie Sutterlin, union president, said they met with district officials several times but no agreement on halting the cuts were reached. 

“We came back with the original conclusion,” said Sutterlin. “But the meeting did give us a better understanding of the new (curriculum) program and how it came about.”

Many teachers and parents said they are upset about the implementation of a new middle school intervention program – the Odyssey program — that will focus on math and reading, but may cut instructional time in some programs such as art, music and physical education.

But district officials said 70 percent of district middle school students do not meet or exceed standards. The program would also help students reach new benchmarks.

“We are expecting 100 percent of students to make some growth with the new program,” said Assistant Superintendent Rachel Kinder. “The program is proven to be very effective.”

The new program will cost about $51,000 per year to implement.

Parent Shirley Brady told the board, however, that studies she found online indicate that the program may not be beneficial to students. Brady also opposed the plan for layoffs.

“The shuffle effect, and the riffing (reduction of force) of teachers and rehiring them creates parent resentment and lack of trust of the administration,” said Brady. “Don’t implement the Odyssey program.”

School officials told Brady that they must follow the “reduction of force” process as part of the agreement with the union and to abide with state and federal laws.


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