Brainerd teachers voted Friday to waive their staff development funds for the 2008-09 school year to allow the district to hire back five or six teaching positions.
Kathy Hegstrom, a Brainerd High School teacher and union president of Education Minnesota Brainerd, said 78 percent of the union's membership voted by ballot Friday at each teacher's respective school building.
There were 338 yes votes and 38 no votes cast in order to waive the staff development funds for next year, allowing the district to control those funds, as formally requested last week by the Brainerd School Board.
Union representatives approached district administrators about the idea and the school board had to formally pass a resolution requesting the funds of the teachers' union.
State statute requires that 2 percent of the basic funding formula be set aside for staff development, split in three different ways: districtwide, 25 percent; best practices grants, 25 percent; and 50 percent is to be distributed to each school building for teacher staff development, such as teacher conferences or workshops.
A districtwide committee, made up mostly of teachers as required by law, determines how that staff development money is to be used, said Hegstrom.
The district is projected to receive about $803,000 next fall for staff development. The proposal is that $300,000 be used to hire back five or six teaching positions. Hegstrom said school administrators and board members will make the decision on which positions are to be brought back. No decision has yet been made. The district has laid off 60 teachers for next fall as part of the $5.5 million in budget reductions.
The rest of the funds will be used as it has been for years, funding two staff development days, $300,000; a K-12 curriculum director position plus office support person, $130,000 and a Reading Recovery teacher, $73,000, for a total of $833,000 in proposed expenditures.
Hegstrom said while teachers are giving up staff development opportunities for next year, many felt that being able to add five or six teaching positions would be more advantageous for students in this situation. However, Hegstrom said staff development remains as important as ever next fall as many teachers will be moved to teach in different grade levels and fields in different buildings.
"It's a Band-Aid and a lot of what we're doing is a Band-Aid," said Hegstrom. "This is for one year and we don't know what we're going to do the year after. ... We'd certainly prefer our district was adequately funded by the state so we wouldn't have to use all of these Band-Aids because that's what they are: Band-Aids. They're not permanent solutions by any means."
Hegstrom said the union hosted an informational meeting April 15 about the vote and information was sent to teachers a few days in advance of the meeting.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.