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Potential calendar changes concern teachers

Brown Deer School Board to deliberate throughout February

Jan. 23, 2013

Brown Deer - A handful of Brown Deer educators voiced concern on Tuesday over potential changes to next year's school calendar, citing worry over increased hours with limited changes to compensation.

The 2013-14 calendar will continue to be an item of discussion for the Brown Deer School Board. There were two draft calendars sent out to staff for comments and a third draft under construction. Items being considered for next year include the week spring break will fall, maintaining 183 instruction days and possibly changing Fridays to a full in-service day, while lengthening regular school days.

During a recent districtwide meeting with teachers and parents that focused on the calendar, Superintendent Deb Kerr said there was a consensus among parents who were in favor of full Friday in-service days. These days would be used for a plethora of work related to enhancing student achievement including meeting new international benchmarks, changes in state assessments, mandated changes to teacher evaluations and shifts in curriculum.

"(Parents) know we need time to expand our expertise. That's the hard part for all of us, but I know we'll get there and we're going to have a lot of discourse and conversation about it," Kerr said. "I'm not sure what that means for days, hours, minutes for teachers and administrators."

For teachers in the district, there is a sense of discomfort and fear, said Lisa Albers, Brown Deer teacher and member of the Brown Deer Education Association. This fear is compilation of things including changes to the school calendar, the loss of their bargaining rights and "teacher bashing we hear from the media, family and friends," she said.

Concern over the calendar; however, was the reason teachers attended the Tuesday meeting.

"If you look at the proposed calendar it appears teachers are scheduled for three more working days," Albers said. "We know you're still sorting through how to compensate teachers for those working days, there is concern that compensation will not be in accordance with the teacher's professional salary even though they are required to be here."

She said there is also a rumor that the teacher's workday could increase. Though just a rumor, it is a concern.

Albers said increasing the work day, for example, could greatly affect working moms who are teachers in the district as there can be a 10-hour limit to how long a person can keep their child in day care.

Surrounding school districts are already moving toward calendar changes. Kerr said Cedarburg, for example, extended their school year another week into June.

The Brown Deer School Board will deliberate over the calendar throughout February. In the meantime, Kerr said she will continue to keep staff updated on the process.

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