Displaced teacher situation still shaking out in Roaring Fork Schools | PostIndependent.com

Displaced teacher situation still shaking out in Roaring Fork Schools

A handful of teachers who were displaced or had their contracts non-renewed due in part to enrollment shifts to the new elementary/middle Riverview School in Glenwood Springs are still actively seeking new positions within the district, according to the latest update provided to the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education.

“Those that are actively applying in our district have interviewed numerous times,” Nikki Jost, human resources director for the district, noted in a memo to the school board last week.

That has caused some frustration, Jost, along with Rhonda Tathum, president of the local teachers union, the Roaring Fork Community Education Association, indicated at the May 24 board meeting.

Particularly for the displaced teachers, those who had three years or more of tenure with the district, the waiting game has been difficult to see if they can land a new teaching job or be given a one-year temporary assignment as required by state law, Tathum said.

The teachers association was asked to revisit the district’s displaced teacher policy at the time it came to light earlier this school year that several teachers would be losing their positions due to enrollment shifts with the opening of the new school.

“They are kind of hanging in limbo, which has been frustrating,” Tathum advised the board. However, the union decided to wait until fall to look at the displacement policy, rather than during the current uncertainty.

The scheduled 2017-18 opening of the new Riverview School resulted in an intentional drop in enrollment at other Glenwood Springs, which in turn meant not as many teachers will be needed at those schools next year.

A combination of state law and district policy prevents those teachers from being automatically transferred to the new school or any other district school without their consent, or that of the school principal.

Originally, 24 teachers who were displaced, or non-renewed in the case of those that had been with the district less than three years, were placed in the district’s priority hiring pool and at least guaranteed interviews.

Since that time, five have found positions in the district, one announced her retirement and two have found positions outside the district, Jost reported.

As of May 22, the priority hiring pool consisted of 16 teachers, including nine who were displaced and seven non-renewed teachers, she said.

“Of the nine displaced teachers in the priority hiring pool, three are actively applying for other district positions,” Jost said in her report. “Of the seven non-renewed teachers, five are actively applying for other district positions.

“Displaced teachers are anxious to be notified of their placements for next year, as they are guaranteed a temporary assignment for the ’17-’18 school year,” Jost continued.

Those teachers will be notified no later than the last day of school, but hopefully sooner, she said, reiterating that teachers who were non-renewed for a drop of enrollment are not guaranteed a position next year, but are eligible for rehire.

Also as of May 22, there are a total of 29 open positions in the district. That includes six positions still to be filled at Riverview, which is adopting an English-Spanish dual language educational model.

Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Rob Stein indicated at last week’s board meeting that Riverview Principal Adam Volek is on track with the teacher hires he has made to date to implement the dual language model.

“He still has some open bilingual positions, but his core bilingual team is already in place, and the key areas have been filled,” Stein said in a separate memo to the board.

In addition to the positions still to be filled at Riverview, as of early last week there were two open positions to be filled at Glenwood Springs Elementary School, one at Glenwood Middle School, four at Glenwood High School, one at Carbondale Middle School, three at Carbondale’s Crystal River Elementary, two at Roaring Fork High School, four at Basalt High School, one at Basalt Middle and two at Basalt Elementary.

An updated report will be provided to the school board at its June 14 meeting, which should indicate whether the displaced and nonrenewed teachers who are still looking for new positions have been hired, Jost said.

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