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Brown Deer schools issue layoff notices

Twenty staff members face cuts including popular baseball coach

April 10, 2013

Brown Deer - A total of 20 staff members, eight part-time and 12 full-time, have been issued preliminary layoff notices by the Brown Deer School District.

Among them is high school physical education teacher and baseball coach Michael Donahue, who came before the School Board with two other teachers last week to plead his case, bringing with him a crowd of people in a show of support. As of press time, Donahue did not respond to a North Shore NOW request for comment.

In light of the public outcry over teachers' potential layoffs, district administrators have said the preliminary notices are commonplace and don't necessarily equal final layoffs later in the year.

"It's a depressing ritual," Business Manager Emily Koczela said, "but it's something we do every year."

Last year, Koczela said, the district issued notices to eight part-timers and 15 full-timers, later issuing final layoff notices to four employees.

"The numbers aren't unusual," Koczela added. "It ended up with nearly all of them coming back."

Usually preliminary layoffs notices are the result of enrollment changes, with the district issuing the notices to teachers who can't be guaranteed the same amount of work in the coming year.

"Under these new rules, teachers only have one year contracts," Superintendent Deb Kerr said. "If we don't renew their contracts, we're obligated to offer them the same."

In the coming year the consolidation of the district from three buildings to two will also come in to play, with the resulting efficiencies and revealed redundancies eliminating some jobs.

Licenses more important

With some teachers vying for the same or similar jobs in the consolidated format, added credentials like teachings licenses are carrying more weight.

"Licenses are all of a sudden a bigger deal than they have been," Koczela said. "(The layoff process) feels a lot different. It's not that it's more people. It's that they're being asked different questions."

The district has also been reducing Open Enrollment seats in the elementary school in anticipation of less space in the combined kindergarten through sixth grade building to accommodate four sections at each grade level instead of five.

"We reduced slowly and gradually over the years," Kerr said.

Layoff notices are distributed among teaching, custodial and secretarial staff, she added.

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