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The Day After: What's Next for Mary Drew Elementary School Teachers?

Now that a decision has been made to close the school, Summit Hill school district Supt. Barb Rains said she will be determining the staffing needs for D161.

Only hours after Summit Hill School District 161 board members voted to close for the 2012-13 school year, Principal Kathy Klein was holding an assembly for students, teachers and staff Thursday explaining what that decision would mean for them.

Klein--sometimes through tears, according to those in attendance--told the children that the closing was an example of adults having to occasionally make adult decisions, and despite that, everyone was still determined to have a good year, especially with Illinois Standard Achievement Tests scheduled next week.

"She did a wonderful job of setting the tone in the morning," said D161 Supt. Barb Rains, who spent much of the day talking with Mary Drew teachers and staff about the closing, which was done by the board in order to chip away at the district's $3 million deficit over three years. The board wants to cut at least $1.4 million of that this year.

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Now that the board has made its decision to close Mary Drew, Rains said her next step is to figure out the staffing details for the district with one less school. Mary Drew eachers expressed curiosity more than fear Thursday on what district schools they might end up teaching at next school year. Some board members Wednesday said the 16 Mary Drew classroom teachers would not be let go with the school closing, and they would "follow the students" to the other schools in the district. 

Although she wouldn't guarantee that no Mary Drew teachers would be eliminated, Rains said it was likely that most would stay on because most of them were tenured, meaning they would be found other spots in the district. As part of the board's cost-cutting model, nine teaching positions are to be dropped district-wide, and Rains said she wasn't sure specifically how many more would be cut because of the closing. The financial model involving closing a school states that there would be a 5 percent staff reduction, but that would be spread throughout the other district schools. Teachers must be informed if they are being let go by the end of March, Rains said, adding that the board will need to address that at its March 28 meeting.

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Board members also indicated Wednesday night that Klein would be retained by the district in a new position. Rains said she agreed with that statement, but she didn't know specifically what Klein's future role would be.  Principal Jan Zevkovich announced she was retiring after the school year Wednesday, meaning there would be a principal opening in the district for 2012-13.

As for Mary Drew support staff, Rains said an effort would be made to try to find other positions for them in the district. Those employees, such as clerical workers and janitorial staff, are not guarantee spots at other schools.

Dan February 27, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Informed---Answer to your question. The information was not posted on the districts website. The agreement was ratified and was not shared or made available to the taxpayers and parents until after ratification. A new law went into effect in August of 2009 and again in 2010 requiring certain information be posted including all district labor agreements, administrator pay and perks along with other required information. Check out the attachment http://www.hlerk.com/pdf/Salary%20Compensation.pdf
Bob February 27, 2012 at 02:48 AM
The teachers single insurance is covered but they pay big time for family coverage but I'm sure Dan already knows this but forgot to mention it, while the administrators get free family coverage.
Dan February 27, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Bob--$2000.00 payment a year goes a long way per teacher for family coverage per contract language. Could you clarify what "but they pay big time" means in dollars and cents or percentage. http://www.hlerk.com/pdf/Salary%20Compensation.pdf
LA March 01, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Dan: You hit the nail on the head! Everything you list here, and on a much larger scale, is what's wrong in the entire state. It goes beyond just teacher pension/medical reform, but rather Public Service pension/medical reform. Our tax dollars fund the future of some politicians, state employees and teachers. I'm sorry, but I would much rather see my dollars doing to fund eduction and other programs in the state of illinois that protect the future of our children. Working adults can fund their own retirement and medical coverage. Please people, as you review the issue and closing of our school, be thinking of the larger problem here: the state is broke - we have no money to continue to fund basic and promised programs such as education. EVERYONE has to be willing to give something up: and like the private sector, fringe benefits should be the first thing to go. I am wondering how we can convince the rule makers to recind pensions and medical coverage when they are clearly in it to protect themselves and not the students.
Dan March 01, 2012 at 11:46 PM
LA---All people need to do is check out the districts website and review the posted information made available( labor agreement, administrator pay and perks, etc.). They can then form their own opinion like you and I have concerning what is really causing the districts financial problems along with the unsustainabilty of these labor agreements and administrator contracts without hugh tax increases, more school closings, increased fees for parents etc. To be continued...

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