D96 early release opponents feel some heat

First committee meeting finds little common ground

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By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

The first meeting of the so-called Instructional Time Committee in Riverside Elementary School District 96 left the parents who most wanted the meeting frustrated.

Those parents, led by Karen Judy Foley, are upset about an early release plan the school board adopted in April, which would release students from school an hour early once a week so teachers can receive training in the new Common Core standards, get other professional development, and collaborate.

"The REC [Riverside Education Council] reps and the administration would not find any room for compromise," Foley said. "Our hope was to add [school board member] Art Perry's position to add 15 minutes on Tuesday through Friday to make up for that time and they keep saying their contract restricts them."

Juliet Boyd, a parent who was part of Foley's group, was also disappointed in the reaction from the union representatives and administration.

"They were very hostile," Boyd said. "It did not seem that anything that would extend the school day is something that either the administration or the union was receptive to at all. They dismissed all the things we discussed: extending the school day, doing it outside the school day and paying teachers."

Rory Dominick, a parent member of the committee who supports the early release policy, suggested that the district could restore the lost instructional time by cutting back teacher-directed physical education in the elementary schools. Shortening the advisory period at Hauser was also suggested as a way to make up for time lost to the early release.

Dominick and Boyd will meet with Superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis, Director of Academic Excellence Brian Ganan and the union representatives Wednesday afternoon to see if they can come up with a concrete proposal to present to the school board at its June 17 meeting.

Cutting back on teacher-directed physical education was first presented to the school board by the administration back when the idea of a late start was presented to the school board back in January, but it received a tepid response.

Attending last week's committee meeting were eight parents — four supporting the early release policy and four opposed — three leaders from the teachers' union, school board President Mary Rose Mangia, school board member David Kodama, Ganan and Sharma-Lewis.

"It was discouraging, because I felt like we were sort of outnumbered," Foley said.

Boyd said that she is doubtful that today's meeting will be a whole lot more productive.

"Unless the tone of the administration and the union changes quite a lot, I don't hold out whole lot of hope," Boyd said.

Mangia says that Foley's research and concern about lost instructional has caused her to reconsider her earlier vote for the early release plan.

"This changed my view of this totally and again I guess would like to say that I would not vote the way I did again based on her work," Mangia said." But on the other hand we still have to be ready for Common Core, and there was just a risk of not doing something."

Mangia said she hasn't made up her mind whether to have the board vote on June 17 to rescind the early release policy or come up with another alternative.

"I guess that's my decision, isn't it?" Mangia said. "I'm telling you it's a toughie. I go back and forth on it. I don't want to predict what I'm going to do."

Kodama said he sees no reason to reconsider the early release policy, but he said he is willing to listen to ideas about making up the lost time.

"I will just be waiting to see what the committee comes up with," Kodama said. "If there is a viable option to do that, I'm willing to listen to it. It's not my understanding that the current proposal for early release is being reconsidered."

Kodama thanked the leadership of the REC for attending the meeting after first saying that they would not participate in the committee.

"I think we are very fortunate to have leadership amongst the REC that are willing to make time to listen to those thoughts," Kodama said.

Reader Comments

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Peter Schueler from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 1:30 PM

After attending the BOE meeting yester-evening, I must say our D96 Professional Administration and Professional Staff of Teachers did a great job expanding our understanding of why the 'ERT' is required, what will be done with it, and how it will be managed. Also interesting the comments by Riverside Trustee and D96 parent Mike Foley who spoke highly of the Teachers on the one hand and then communicated to the Teachers Union and our member Teachers present an underlying anti-union sentiment out of the other. Do we really still diminish the fact that Teachers have professional representation? Another notable point was that, of the (Instructional Time) Committee membership assigned to look for solutions to the 'PD/ER/IT' debate, specific to the members against the ER/PD adoption, the same presentation used to support their pov in the first place - was allowed to be used again. As a second member of this committee stated , 'We simply agreed to Disagree' - wouldn't that statement have been enough? A Gold Star should be given out to David Kodama for fighting for recognition of speaking time, and Mary-Rose for recognizing Patty, who laid the cold hard facts of Contractual Obligation out for all, as well as the reminder to us all about Bargaining In Good Faith and stating that intent for all to hear - Trust, and Good Faith Are Concepts That Matter. A bold trans-formative and unifying meeting!

Mary Lang Judy from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: June 17th, 2014 2:14 PM

Regina, here is the link you requested: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=35269711

Peter Schueler from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: June 17th, 2014 12:26 PM

(Cont'd from previous) Let the professional educators we have hired state their case as well and clearly - from the Administrative structural end of education here to the application and re-application of methods and rationale - not to metion trust in who we have brought in to move us forward!

Peter Schueler from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: June 17th, 2014 12:24 PM

With all due respect Chris, 1. What 'False information' - exactly what? 'Time off' - do you really mean that? That's your opinion of the Teachers motive here - rather than Professional Development? 2. The 5-2 vote was a Decision by the BOE - what policy (contract/law) did they break when they voted in favor? 3. You can say 'I told you so' when this has proved itself out - but again, when and in what words was this ambition stated? 4. Are you alluding to the failed Tax Levy that was not passed? That was a/the $400,000 "cut" you are speaking about? How do you cut out what you did not have to begin with? Now it's a $375,000.00 'concession'/'hyperbolic valuation'? (dropped from $511,000? or up from $365,000?) 5. Again with the hyperbole, "5 more school days behind"? The 30 Hours argument and subsequent valuation? Here is another perspective on the 'valuation' based on the 30 hours metamorphosing into $365,000 dollars in instructional value (see 30 hours x 1,618 students equals 48,540 hours of "lost" time and ratio) 1.The 48,540 "lost student hours" is the equivalent of "losing" 6,934+ days of school. (using a rough 7 hour school-day) 2. 2,022+ 24hour days 3. 39+ school years (calculated at *175 (*2013) 7 hour school days yearly). Now that was some Hyperbole! Fears of permanence in PD, (OMG! That's only for other professional workers), of "Time-Off" (kind of insulting), are just that. Imagine Chris, how much PD you have undergone (and your colleagues) and been able to comp those expenses back to a business - your and every other professionals 'PD' is ostensibly to better serve - why the heck not our teachers? On a lighter note, there is no substitute for Quality teaching time, Innovation, (infused via professional development), not to mention getting 'all aboard' the Common Core Train - no one should be left behind at the station including our Teaching Professionals. Hopefully as we will learn, we are importing some of this experience too through new hires. Le

Christopher FitzHenry Robling from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: June 16th, 2014 10:32 PM

1. The administration presented false info. The vote is invalid and must be reversed formally. 2. The time off is an unnegotiated concession. To that extent, the board MUST reverse. 3. There is no doubt, based on Administration answers, that the time off is permanent. 4. Some board members had KITTENS over $400,000 of cuts last fall, yet those SAME members support this $375,000 concession w/out a care. Why? 5. Our schools under Lamberson declined markedly. Who thinks falling FIVE more days behind per year will help all of the students ? Based on what data ?

Peter Schueler from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: June 16th, 2014 6:14 PM

Karen - this forum is open to all to see and digest, a phone conversation is only between the two of us - that's why I post, to get my, (and sometimes), a different point of view out. Forgive the typo mixing names! We know where the other stands on the issue. I feel it is necessary and no more a matter professional development than any other profession. Especially under these circumstances (behind the curve on Common Core). Is it possible that the districts that you are selecting had or have been on board already or further into Common Core since it's adoption? Also, I just am not finding that this district is in bad shape - my Data is derived from the ISBE 2012-2013 listing of Public Schools, a total of 4,530 records. I removed all High Schools and High School Districts first. Then segmented by type all public school districts only (760 of them) - also segmented then only the (K-8) schools (3,055) of them. one group does not include the other. So what I found was this using my rationale. By Rank, Name, (Top Percentile) and Number Peers (Segment) Rank 141 AF Ames 4.6 percentile 3,055 Rank 333 Central percentile 3,055 Rank 517 Blythe 16.9 percentile 3,055 Rank 533 Hollywood 17.4 percentile 3,055 Rank 655 Hauser 21.4 percentile 3,055 Rank 90 District96 11.8 percentile 760 Yes, I think we all want and should strive for improvement in this district - but there are reasons we have not. Let's not let a less than complete buyin and immersion in Common Core hold us back any longer as another issue - it is here now. Then step back and have the Administration get to it along with their staff - and hold them to accountability, they will rise to the challenge.

Regina Felange  

Posted: June 16th, 2014 5:04 PM

Can you provide a link to "Superintendent's Guiding Principles Update. Page 4 of 5 of the Update lists early release information for neighboring districts" - can't seem to find it. Thank you

Karen Judy  

Posted: June 15th, 2014 3:15 PM

Peter. We spoke on the phone already. Feel free to call me to discuss but I am Karen Judy Foley, not Mary Judy. Yes I need to do 50 hours per year of continuing ed on my own time, not when I am supposed to be working. Also our current school ranking is 127/724, behind Western Springs, River Forest, Hinsdale, Oak Park and Lagrange. That is not where we should be for our high taxes. All of these higher performing districts have longer school years and longer school days. We are 8 days behind neighboring districts. If we add early release we will be 13 days behind neighboring districts. The administration has been clear that this will not be a one year program but will continue. I do not agree with the loss of instructional time as you know. Feel free to contact me again rather than posting here.

Peter Schueler from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: June 15th, 2014 2:00 PM

Mary (Judy), The BOE voted 5-2 for the 30 of Professional Development in 2014-15. This has not become an (nor understood by the BOE) ongoing (agreed upon) program, the first 30 hours is still up in the air. Dr Lewis also directly answered the question regarding the information supplied the board in the last meeting and made this document available. As a Pediactric Doctor, you must also attend a great deal of PD yearly and accumulated at great expense which brings value back to your patients. So do all professionals - this District still ranks high for all the 'minutes less' of teaching time and lack of PD time that has been extended (over and above a couple of institue days) and in spite of the 1-2 days less of school a year compared to your peer group. Stop with the Hyperbole and get with some change to get this District on a 180 degree turn to an even more fullilling experience for our kids and alingned to Common Core - Common Core is a significant change for the educators as well. The BOE also ought to (to the member) be doing research on this issue as well using data from established sites and mining it or canvasing other school districts themselves if they haven't.

Mary Lang Judy from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: June 15th, 2014 12:55 AM

Regina, if you look at the Board Packet available on the D96 website, you will find the Superintendent's Guiding Principles Update. Page 4 of 5 of the Update lists early release information for neighboring districts which was refuted in Dr. Judy's May 20 presentation to the Board. Lisa, the question has been answered by administration in several forums that it is their intention to continue the professional development schedule ongoing because "the teachers need the collaboration time." With a Board decision setting a precedent, why would the Union need to renegotiate to keep the early release time? They don't need to adjust the CBA to something that already exists. Thank you, Mary Jurgens, for speaking up as a current teaching professional with insights to CC implementation needs.

Mary Garbett Jurgens from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: June 14th, 2014 6:06 PM

As a teacher myself and a parent of the district, I am concerned about what happened in the past with all of the early release time given previously? I have been "unpacking" the Common Core for 5 years and counting in my own district and falsely assumed the same was happening in District 96 at the same time. Training on the standards will not need this much time. We have exceptional educators who should be already very well knowledgeable in the Core and can easily adapt their teaching to meet these standards. P.S Who knows how long the Core will remain until the U.S Ed. decides to try something new again? There is a history here.

Regina Felange from Riverside, IL  

Posted: June 13th, 2014 8:26 PM

Can you be more specific about "data from the administration at the April 15 Board meeting that was incorrect?"

Lisa Aulerich-Marciniak from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: June 13th, 2014 7:59 PM

Mary, I'd like to know where you're getting the idea that this is a permanent situation. I was not at the meetings where this was discussed, so I may have missed something important. However, I did read the minutes and watch the videos that were available, so I have seen much of this discussion. None of what I have seen (including Landmark articles) has indicated that this situation would extend past the 2014-15 school year and include the things that were presented at these meetings. (They even went as far as to say what wouldn't be included.) I believe that the contract ends this coming year, also, which means everything goes back on the table as negotiations start up for a new CBA. It's not like we're a year into a five year contract, so we should just expect that whatever we do now will continue for another four years. I also have to take issue with your use of the word "perk" in regards to this training. Sitting through an hour meeting at school once a week is not what most people would consider a perk. It hardly ranks up there with the conference a friend of mine gets to attend annually in places like New Orleans for days at a time.

Mary Lang Judy from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: June 13th, 2014 10:49 AM

The difference in this case, Lisa, is that this "Common Core training time" was built into the schedule long term and on-going. While Common Core is the impetus, the shortened instructional time doesn't end once the teachers are up to speed on the standards. The administration built in this training and collaboration "perk" without disclosing what it will be used for going forward. That would never fly in the private sector, as Paul is suggesting. The seminars and training you reference, Lisa, are on an as needed basis and can be revoked at the employers will.

Lisa Aulerich-Marciniak from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: June 13th, 2014 7:24 AM

Paul, this training will have nothing to do with teachers moving up the pay scale. It is training on the Common Core Standards that need to be taught effectively to the children. I don't think it's unusual for industries to provide training when state standards and regulations affecting them change or simply to keep up to date. The private sector sends employees to conferences, seminars, and trade shows during work hours.

Paul Halvey from North Riverside  

Posted: June 12th, 2014 9:58 PM

Does anyone working in the private sector get weekly paid time off to train in areas that will help them up the pay scale? I won't ask about pensions.

Mary Lang Judy from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: June 12th, 2014 9:47 PM

The vote on this decision invalid is because it was predicated on data from the administration at the April 15 Board meeting that was incorrect. How can we be held to a decision that is the result of false data? The process was undermined to create a desired result. I admire the efforts of looking for a compromise that will serve all, but the suggestion of using Advisory is not an option because Hauser parents were instructed that Advisory has been eliminated from the 2014-15 schedule. Must be another move "for the children". I wonder what else has not been reported to the Board and the public to keep us guessing what's going on inside of our schools?

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