GH teachers get call back to classroom

(FULL STORY) Grand Haven Area Public Schools has recalled all 10 teachers who were laid off earlier this summer as the district grappled with a $3 million deficit for the upcoming school year.
Krystle Wagner
Aug 2, 2013


Scott Grimes, the district’s assistant superintendent of human services, said a number of factors made the “great news” possible. He said there have been additional retirements, staff resignations and merging job positions to create more room in the budget since the layoff notices were issued in June.

In total, 14 staff members retired and three staff members resigned from their positions in the district.

“I’m thrilled to be recalling our laid-off teachers and returning them to our classrooms,” Superintendent Keith Konarska

The one-year delay of the federal Affordable Care Act also created room in the Grand Haven district's budget because the district won’t be required to provide health insurance for all employees who work more than 30 hours.

The school board also voted in June to cut four support staff positions: a high school testing coordinator, two part-time middle school receptionists and a part-time elementary school attendance clerk.

Teachers who were impacted by the layoffs are: four from the high school, two from the middle schools and four from the elementary schools. In total, the district will have 10 less teachers throughout the district because of attrition, Grimes said.

Layoffs were determined based on staff performance reviews, in which teachers received ratings on their effectiveness.

Although some staff members received layoff notices, Grimes said it doesn’t mean they are ineffective educators. He said very few staff members were found to be "minimally effective."

“A lot are effective, but due to peer numbers, they were laid off,” he said.

Grimes said they still plan to fill three positions by the end of summer: choir director, elementary school teacher and high school science teacher. The district will also hire staff for its Great Start Readiness Program because the district received additional spaces for increased enrollment needs.

Grand Haven school officials are projecting strong enrollment numbers  throughout the district this fall, which will play a factor in next year’s budget.

Although current enrollment projections surpass last year's projections, Grimes said they won’t have official data for a few more weeks.

“We’ll get more solid numbers when staff return from summer vacation,” he said.



I feel for the teachers in GHAPS that were laid-off and some that will be laid-off in the future. With the new law allowing a performance based layoff system, politics are and will be the key to layoffs in Grand Haven. There may be an excellent teacher that has a couple parent complaints that goes and a terrible teacher that all the students, parents and principal love stays. Good luck to all the excellent and caring teachers in Grand Haven!!

Say no to new taxes

Welcome to the real world. In the private sector, ALL jobs are performance based. If you wish to retain your position, you better produce the expected results. This change will result in a better educational system, no longer will bad teachers be protected by a seniority system.


Taxes- I'll keep this quick.
1. Teaching is not like the "real world". There is not concrete profit. Students sometimes digest the lesson and it isn't learned until years later when a tangible connection is made. No one whines about what you make, the bennies you have, etc. Yet many do just that with teachers, even though they would not choose to teach...because of the pay, lack of respect, education required to work, ect.
2. Teaching is not the private sector, so your comparison is invalid.
3. Performance based: Depending on what you did, was your performance based on "your" performance or based on your "widget's performance." My friends in manufacturing threw their widget rejects into a box that was melted down. This did not determine their pay, bennies, etc. Teachers with 25 years experience can not move around from district to district, state to state, or they begin at the bottom with new teachers. My engineering friend made $10K every time he moved to a different company. In addition, he had 3-4 weeks paid time off. Teacher do not get paid time off.
4. The American educational system is good. We cannot have the best university system on the planet without a great feeder system. Grand Haven is a dynamite school district which has teachers/administrators who have produced excellent learning opportunities (Science Olympiad, Bands/Choirs, students who have gone on to Ivy League and the Naval Academy, etc).
5. Bad teachers are not protected by seniority- you may want to check your facts. Do you know some avg./bad doctors/lawyers/politicians/workers who continue to work? I sure do. Bad teachers amount to 1% of the problem. The effects of poverty is proven (by data, NCLB, etc) to be the primary contributor to failing schools, and GHAPS is not failing.

Care to respond in an itemized fashion?

A Bit of Reality

It is so nice to read positive and supportive comments. Thank you meisterblue and Highlander. I come from a long line of teachers and administrators and have observed life through their eyes. Unfortunately media often grabs the negatives about school systems and overlooks the hard-working staff and all that they do to support and educate today's children. Even television shows and movies portray the educational system far different than today's reality--but that's another conversation.
As for "say no to new taxes" comment about performance-based evaluations, I have a scenario to consider. Highlander, in my opinion is spot on. I'll use an analogy here. Let's say there are two obedience classes for puppies. Trainer A has 10 puppies to train. This trainer is qualified and certified. Trainer A has a class of mostly pure bred labs, retrievers, poodles, and a few mutts. (Note: this diversity is not about race, but the propensity to intelligence varieties.) Most of the owners work diligently at night and on the weekends with their pups to follow up on what their puppies are learning in class.
Trainer B has the same education as Trainer A, but Trainer B's class is mostly mutts with just a couple of labs. Most of these owners do not work with their puppies in the evenings or weekends. it is easy to predict which class of puppies will be more successful. Does that mean trainer B should be let go if his class does not perform as well as the other? It may be crude to use puppies as an analogy for students, but you get the point.
Yes, our state politicians want teachers to be evaluated on student performance. My point is that until administrators plan balanced classes, how can this system be fair? Even then, children are not robots that absorb information, retain it, and regurgitate it back out after a 2-1/2 month summer break. As humans, don't we tend to retain mostly that in which we have an interest in? What is the answer to a fair evaluation system? I'm not sure, but the current system will most likely cause many talented teachers and administrators to loathe the educational-political system at the cost of a few poor teachers. Also, it's not tenure that has kept poor teachers, it's administrators who haven't stepped into the classrooms enough to see what does or does not go on.


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