As the 2010-2011 school year nears its end, some teachers in the Parkway School District have expressed concern over whether their contracts will be renewed, given the current state of the economy. But a spokeswoman for the Parkway district said these teachers need not worry.
“We’ve strived to retain our current teaching staff. Where we have made budget cuts, we’ve done so in areas other than personnel,” Cathy Kelly, district spokeswoman, said. “We have made no layoffs of teachers anywhere in the district this year, and right now, we have no plans for personnel cuts in the future.”
Pierremont Elementary School Principal Kathy Cain tells Patch the district is actually hiring teachers. Cain said 13 elementary positions were just posted.
"If you look at what's going on in the world today with the job market, I feel that being in the education profession is one of the most stable, secure positions," Cain said. Her two daughters are teachers in the Parkway district. "It's kind of a family event when we talk about maintaining and retaining jobs."
Pierremont Administrative Intern Fran Nieburg tells Patch that Parkway is in a unique position because it's fortunate to have openings and the ability to fill them.
"Altough we may make cuts in other areas, I think the district is working really hard to retain teachers and keep the class sizes down," Nieburg said.
Russell Barton, science teacher at Parkway North, said he doesn’t see a cause for concern, either.
“I have worked in three districts now, and the administration, school board, and community are by far the most committed to teacher quality and student improvement in Parkway,” said Barton, a Teacher of the Year and High School Teacher of Year award recipient.
“That means they can’t afford to be losing good teachers. In both of my other districts, I faced freezes on the salary schedule and/or step freezes. Parkway is still adjusting its salary schedule to compete with the top districts in the area, and that investment gives me comfort, and Parkway students have the long-term advantage.”
According to the district, there are 1,470 certified classroom teachers employed by the district with an average teacher salary of $56,724, well above the state average of $45,148.
Barton, however, is concerned with current trends in public education toward one and three-year contracts for teachers.
“That is much more alarming,” he says. “I think everyone has had a boss that they have had a difference of opinion with. In present form, the state legislature is pushing for contracts that cannot be renewed without reason in place of tenure. This could lead to a single bad principal totally undermining an institution with a culture of success in three years.”
Barton said that this amount of damage cannot be repaired in another three years. “I have my own issues with tenure, but until administrators are held to a standard of achievement that is as proportionally rigorous based on salaries as those being proposed for teachers. I don’t see how you can set up a different system without jeopardizing the tradition and cultural success of districts. Education is poorly served with one-to-three-year goal horizons.”
According to the district's website, this academic year, the Parkway district has an expenditure budget of $210 million and operating revenue is projected at $207 million. The district estimates cost of instruction per student is $11,434. There are more than 17,460 students in the Parkway system, with an average class size in its grade schools of about 19 students and 22 students at the middle school level. The average class size in Parkway high schools is almost 23 students.