December 19, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
28°F
test

Lorain recalls 8 teachers

LORAIN — Eight laid-off teachers have been recalled by Lorain Schools and full-day kindergarten has been reinstated thanks to passage of a levy in November.

“They’re raring to go,” said Dean Reinhart, Lorain Education Association president, after Board of Education members approved the recall at their Thursday meeting. “They’re happy that the levy passed so this could be done.”

Full-day kindergarten was among the programs eliminated because of $7.3 million in cuts last year. The school district has been decimated over the last decade by shrinking enrollment due to depopulation and competition from charter schools and open enrollment. Last year’s cuts included 182 employees, including about 98 teachers. Reinhardt said 44 teachers have been recalled, primarily due to retirements or resignations.

Beside the educational value of full-day kindergarten, board members were concerned about losing more students. They said parents of kindergartners who also had older children in the district were more likely to pull all their children out so they could send them all to one district with full-day kindergarten.

Superintendent Tom Tucker had promised that if voters approved the seven-year, 4.8-mill levy that raises $3.12 million annually, he would reinstate full-day kindergarten. It resumes Jan. 22. The recalled teachers are Allison Caldera, Kathryn Figueroa, Sue Fredie — Fredie is being paid with federal taxpayer grant money — Kyle llcisko, Jenny Malloy, Jodi Skladan, Esther Stoutenbourgh and Christopher Szente.

Caldera, a 32-year-old mother of three young daughters, was laid off in June. She said her unemployment benefits expired last month.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do now?’ ” she said. “I can’t wait to get back to work.”

Caldera, a Lorain Schools teacher since 2003, had previously been laid off in 2007 and 2010 due to budget cuts. Caldera, who has a master’s degree and will earn nearly $50,000 annually, said other cash-strapped school districts didn’t want to hire her because her experience and degree meant they would have to pay her more than less-experienced teachers.

Caldera said she understands why other districts can’t afford experienced teachers, but sympathizes with her colleagues who remain unemployed.

“I’m so blessed,” she said. “It’s got to be very scary for others who haven’t gotten called back.”

In other business:

  • Board members re-elected Tim Williams as board president.
  • Board meetings were moved from every second and fourth Thursday of each month to every second and fourth Wednesday. Start times remain 6:30 p.m.
  • The public will continue to be allowed to speak at the start and end of meetings. Residents are allowed three minutes for each appearance unless they get prior approval to speak longer.
  • Anthony Giardini and his law firm of Giardini, Cook & Nicol were retained as the board’s attorney and law firm despite board member Jim Smith saying money might be saved by having Lorain’s Law Department do the work or by the board seeking bids from other law firms. Giardini said in June that his firm receives between $110,000 and $125,000 of the district’s approximately $175,000 in annual legal fees. Before his firm took over in 2008, Giardini said annual fees were about $350,000. Law Director Pat Riley has said his office doesn’t have enough staff or expertise in educational legal issues to do the work.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.