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Kaneland school board approves plan to realign certified support staff positions

The Kaneland School District 302 Board of Education on March 14 approved a minimum staffing plan for certified staff for the 2022-23 school year that will repurpose some paraprofessional positions.

Each of the four Kaneland elementary schools will see two of its Response to Intervention paraprofessionals repurposed to garner one certified full-time employee. At Harter Middle School, its two unfilled paraprofessional positions will be repurposed to garner the budgetary equivalent of one certified full-time position.

“You can see where we are taking those 16 FTEs for the Response to Intervention program and reclassifying those as MTSS (multi-tiered system of support) staff and then adding in four FTE there by proxy of repurposing the RTI paraprofessionals that we currently have,” said Chris Adkins, director of human resources for the district. “I want to point out that without the MTSS shift, the elementary level grade span would be down 4.5 FTE, but because we’re shifting four of those people, the total body count is flat, but you’ll see some cost savings. … We’re going to be able to keep costs controlled to a degree.”

Reading a letter on behalf of the Kaneland McDole Elementary first grade team, Lori Williams, a fifth grade teacher at the school, spoke highly of the tireless efforts of RTI staff members Dorcey Bartholomew and Mary Groen in hopes of saving their livelihood.

“For the last several years, these two staff members have left a lasting impression on students and teachers and made a difference in so many lives,” Williams said. “Their absence will be felt greatly.”

The plan passed 4-1. Board members Aaron Lawler, Bob Mankivsky, Jennifer Simmons and Teresa Witt voted in favor while Ryan Kerry voted against it. Addam Gonzalez and Meg Junk were absent.

Kerry argued that Adkins presented a staff plan, shared a two-minute blurb about the changes and how the plan is being implemented and didn’t explain it very well.

“This is a big change in how the junior high (Harter Middle School) is going to operate,” Kerry said. “And I don’t feel like it’s being well explained or the reason behind why it was good last year and now changing this year.”

Adkins responded that the immediate reason for the change is to be able to accomplish MTSS, which is required by law.

“This is a way to not compromise anything we do instructionally or pedagogically, but still free up the FTE to accomplish another component of what we have to do under the law with MTSS,” he said. “We’re not changing classes offered, we’re not changing the level or rigor of classes offered, we’re just offering them in a different format schedule wise.”

Also at the meeting, Kaneland High School senior Jackson Marler and volunteer lacrosse coach Patrick Leach spoke on behalf of the boys lacrosse team during the public comment portion.

“The program will never go anywhere without a dedicated and compensated coach,” Marler said. “I am aware that Kaneland has also approved additional funding for mental health in the school. We believe sports are our mental health outlet and we think physical activity is a very important part in our lives.”

Marler said 32 athletes are playing lacrosse, paying $250 each to participate, and he doesn’t understand where the $8,000 is going.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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