March 22, 2002
D.F.T. Executive Board
D.F.T. Building Stewards
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
No doubt all of you are aware of the school district's intention of reducing the student day to a six-hour day. Savings can only be accomplished here by reducing the number of classes students are allowed to take and reducing teachers. Although it is unfortunately obvious at this time that teaching positions will be reduced and there will be a resulting reduction of. staff, it is also obvious that the district's plan is
ill conceived, confusing and detrimental to students.
When watching the school board meeting last Tuesday, I became increasingly frustrated in regard to this
matter. The confusion on the part of the school board members relating to the zero hour and the effect of reductions on kids was difficult to comprehend. Equally frustrating was the growing implication that if teachers would just give up time during their day and do more to enable the district to lengthen classes, students would not be losers. In my opinion the teacher day matter begs the question of educational implications for students.
Further there was a growing appearance that students were going to lose because teachers would not make necessary modifications. Because of this I went to the press on Wednesday, stressing the fact that we were working to insure educational opportunities for students and that the school board had the funds to provide these opportunities.
That said, there remains a difference of opinion in relation to funding between us and the school district. In short we say they've got the bucks--they say they don't!
Over the last couple of days I've given this a great deal of thought- It seems to me that we have stepped forward to gain the high moral ground on this issue.
We have created the appearance of being the champions of student
opportunity. The question becomes what do we do now to guarantee that student opportunity and to follow through on this?
As you recall, last year we voted to reduce staff development funding by 50% in order to
maintain programs. Many people felt that the 'buildings were shorted in
Well let me tell you those feelings were right on. I am not suggesting that we should do
exactly the same thing again. ( have another, suggestion.
I would like you to consider the following: Let us suggest that the district use $300,000
of staff development funds [for training our 1,000 non
teaching staff ] (We may have to vote on this.) to maintain the full complement of opportunities for students. Further that the entire $300,000 come from
the administrative portion of our district-wide staff development funding. The entire
amount that should go to buildings would go to buildings. The district could then decide
what to do with the $200,000+ left over. I would further suggest that we could build
on this by pointing out that with the change from cash-out to the State Post -
Retirement Health Care Plan that the district will save between $100,000 and $150,000 this year.
Combine the $300,000 of staff development funds with the $100,000+ of severance
savings and we have the money to fund the seven-hour day and guarantee students equal
educational opportunity. We would look to the public as though we were in fact
champions of students and student learning.
I am asking for your help. Discuss this idea with members of your staff as soon as possible and respond to our office
(722-****). We may have a window of opportunity to do something worthwhile for students, enhance our public image, and provide for a few more teaching jobs.
DULUTH FEDERATION OF TEACHERS