All New Richmond teachers will receive non-renewal noticesThe New Richmond School Board approved a recommendation to issue preliminary non-renewal notices to its entire certified teaching staff.
By: Jackie Grumish, New Richmond News
The New Richmond School Board approved a recommendation to issue preliminary non-renewal notices to its entire certified teaching staff.
Morrie Veilleux, district administrator, said the district initially had planned to issue 25-30 non-renewal notices, but after talking to his administrative team, he realized that the administrative priorities might differ from the school board’s priorities.
Those priorities could range from wanting to lay off the younger teachers — most of which work in the elementary schools and would then cause larger class sizes — to eliminating entire programs at the middle or high school levels.
Veilleux said the district’s lawyers suggested issuing a mass notices. That way, everything, including staff, is still on the table for consideration.
Final notice of non-renewal doesn’t need to be issued until March 15. By that time the district should have a better idea of what lies ahead in terms of possible state aid cuts.
“We want to have confidence in our numbers before we make any decisions,” Veilleux said. “Obviously we’re making decisions that will affect the lives of people.”
If it seems as though the district is scrambling, it’s because it is.
Normally the district would have until April 15 to make these decisions. Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget repair bill might change all of that.
Currently, Wisconsin law says preliminary notices must be served by Feb. 28 unless another date is specified in the local collective bargaining agreement. According to New Richmond’s current teacher contract, the school board has until April 15 to issue non-renewal notices.
Walker’s proposed budget repair bill, which would require teachers and other public employees to contribute to their retirement/pensions and health insurance, would also limit collective bargaining. That means teachers and districts would not be able to negotiate an alternative non-renewal date and therefore would need to notify teachers by the state’s Feb. 28 deadline.
Veilleux told the school board Monday that even if Walker’s bill passed, it’s likely the district’s current contract would remain effective until its expiration date of June 30, 2011. The district’s lawyers, however, aren’t so sure.
“They want us to take the conservative approach,” Veilleux told the board.
The conservative approach, he said, is to issue preliminary non-renewal notices before the end of February.
“Issuing a preliminary notice of layoff simply gives us options as the state deals with their issues and buys us a couple more weeks,” District Business Manager Brian Johnston, said in an e-mail circulated Thursday. “This is the only way that everything remains on the table as a potential cut. Without these layoffs, 70% of the budget would be off the table.”
Veilleux said he met with teacher union leadership Wednesday and was meeting with teachers groups Thursday afternoon. Should the board approve the issuance of the preliminary non-renewal notices, it won’t come as a surprise, he said.
It all comes down to what the school board wants, he said.
“I know what my priorities are and I think I know what the board’s are...” he said. “On the other hand, if they want to go another route, we do have a plan B.”
That plan includes issuing about 30 layoff notices to teachers based on seniority.
The preliminary notices are issued to teachers to inform them that the district is considering the non-renewal of contracts. The district then has until March 15 to issue a formal notice of non-renewal.