District 16 board OKs terminations, unrequested leave

The Spring Lake Park District 16 School Board has unanimously approved terminating the contracts of 26 probationary teachers and placing one tenured classroom teacher on an unrequested leave of absence. Another classroom teacher’s contract was reduced by .2 percent.

Per a change in state statute, written notice must now be sent to probationary teachers regarding non renewal and termination of pay and fringe benefits by June 1.

Tenured teachers’ date of notification relating to being placed on an unrequested leave of absence remains at June 30.

A probationary period of employment is defined in Minnesota as a teacher with three consecutive years of teaching in a single Minnesota school district.

The two separate resolutions, one for probationary teachers and a second for the tenured teachers, were passed without discussion.

Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg, in an interview later, said a handful of District 16 teachers (about four or five) were not renewed because they were working on a variance. By law the district needs to repost those positions.

Still others’ contracts were terminated because of a lack of student participation and reduction in programming, because they were long-term substitutes or because their performance did not meet the needs of the district, according to Ryan Stromberg, director of human resources.

“None of these (non renewals) were a result of budget reductions,” Ronneberg said.

The board also voted to place tenured teacher Katherine Sylvester on unrequested leave of absence without pay or fringe benefits. Sylvester, an employee of the district since 1998, is a 1.0 FTE teacher in Family and Consumer Sciences at District 16’s Learning Alternatives Community School.

Ronneberg said in an e-mail to the Life, “Each year staffing adjustments are necessary based on student enrollments, particularly in elective courses. That is the case with Kathy, unfortunately. The position is not being renewed as a result of there not being enough students who registered for those courses to offer them.”

Also, Bruce Botten’s 1.0 FTE contract was reduced by 0.2 to a 0.8 FTE because student registrations are down for next year, according to Ronneberg. Botten, a District 16 employee since 1980, teaches in the industrial technology program at Spring Lake Park High School.

“It’s never fun to let people go,” Ronneberg said in the interview. “The good news is this year there were no budget reductions that led to any staff reductions.”

Some of the probationary teachers could be hired back sometime this summer, according to Ronneberg.

Probationary teachers

Probationary teachers whose contracts were terminated are:

Peter Atakpu, high school/Learning Alternatives, .6 FTE, math teacher; Darcy Brodt, Northpoint .5 FTE, elementary classroom; Kimberly Dahlin-Jones, Woodcrest .5 FTE, early childhood special education ; Alexis Dickey, high school, 1.0 FTE, English Language Learners; Cynthia Gjerde, Westwood Middle School, 1.0 FTE, special education; Ann Grossklaus, Woodcrest .5 FTE, elementary classroom long-term substitute; Lindsey Hanson, Woodcrest 1.0 FTE, elementary classroom.

Benjamin Havelka, Westwood Middle School 1.0 FTE, special education; Gretchen Hintze, high school 1.0 FTE, English teacher; Breanna Johnson, Westwood Intermediate .5 FTE, basic skills teacher; Heather Kittridge, Woodcrest 1.0 FTE, special education – ECSE; Joshua Koopmeiners, Westwood Intermediate .2 FTE, band teacher; Elizabeth Krueger, Woodcrest 1.0 FTE, psychologist intern; Domenic Martini, Westwood Middle School 1.0 FTE, social studies teacher; Taryn McGovern, Northpointe 1.0 FTE, special education.

Jolynn McIntyre, Northpointe 1.0 FTE, English Language Learners; Benjamin Poupard, high school .4 FTE, social studies teacher; Jessica Rojas, Westwood Intermediate 1.0 FTE, elementary classroom; Lindsey Schmidt, Northpointe 1.0 FTE, elementary classroom LTS.

Meghan Settingsgard, Park Terrace 1.0 FTE, special education; Madeline Shadduck, Northpointe 1.0 FTE, English Language Learners LTS; Kipton Sneen, Westwood Middle School 1.0 FTE, elementary classroom; Mary Strohmayer, Woodcrest 1.0 FTE, elementary classroom LTS; Betsy Vielgut, Park Terrace 1.0 FTE, elementary classroom; Jenna Weisser, Westwood Intermediate 1.0 FTE, elementary classroom; and Amanda Wheeler, Northpointe 1.0 FTE, elementary classroom.

The contracts are terminated at the close of the 2011-12 school year.

Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]

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