Friday, October 12, 2007
Job-share arrangement worries fifth-grade parents
During the October 3 Carlisle School Committee meeting, parents expressed concern about the pending job-share being arranged in one of the two fifth-grade teams. Traditionally, the fifth grade has had the same model as the lower grades, with one teacher in a self-contained classroom. This year the fifth grade has been transitioned to "dyads" — two teams of two teachers, with each teacher teaching two classes. One team consists of Kendra Katz, who will be out on maternity leave at the end of January, and Jen Reinhard, who has received permission from Superintendent Marie Doyle to work part time and share her job with a teacher to be hired. In addition, a substitute is in her classroom each morning to allow Reinhardt to drop her children at daycare.
When School Committee Chair Nicole Burkel opened the discussion to audience comments, Shawn Flynn spoke regarding his son, "This will be the third time in five years this has happened to him — that teachers have left in the middle of the year."
Parent Lori Tucker said she agreed with Flynn. "I'm only going with the information that's been given to the parents at this time, which is pretty minimal, basically that Mrs. Reinhard would be there three days and this unknown entity would be there two days. By January these kids in this dyad of Ms. Reinhard and Ms. Katz will have had Ms. Katz, Ms. Reinhard, and two unknown entities coming in. That's four teachers. How many teachers are these kids reasonably supposed to get used to in such a short period of time? I can't see how anyone thinks this is in the best interest of the child."
"To the fifth-grade parents this is extremely upsetting," responded Doyle. "I think it is upsetting on a number of levels. The fifth graders are at a very fragile age. We have gone to the dyads. Hearing that students have had substitutes, that's too much for a child in an elementary school. I promise you that we are looking very carefully [for a new part-time teacher]. We did have someone that had a lot of experience last week who backed out of the job."
Additional teacher in the morning
Parent Brenda Hicks expressed concern about an additional teacher who was substituting each morning in Reinhard's class. "Job sharing may be a way to keep some qualified teachers, but I don't think that making the decision to do it this year, in the first year of a dyad, and having a maternity year in the same team, makes any sense at all for these kids. The same class has a substitute every morning for half an hour so that's an additional teacher. My kid can't even tell me her name."
Committee member Michael Fitzgerald said he just heard something that is "kind of disturbing." He asked, "We have someone who has a substitute for half an hour every morning? It is the responsibility of a faculty member who is on the staff to be in their classroom when they are supposed to be." Doyle said she would look into it.
Reached for comment later through e-mail, Doyle explained, "This [the use of the substitute] came to my attention early this fall and had been authorized by previous practices." She further clarified in a phone conversation that Reinhard is not a half-hour late to work. "She comes in 10-15 minutes late, and the principal has verified that because he is up in the room frequently." She said Reinhard leaves work for the students to do when they first come in the classroom. "When I found out about her in the fall," Doyle explained, "I said, given that other people are in, what can we do to compensate for that, and she does extra help during her lunch block."
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