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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

School board tackles teacher staffing cuts

David Colburn
Posted 3/27/24

VIRGINIA- The ISD 2142 School Board saved it’s most challenging tasks for last on Tuesday, those related to the release of teaching staff. Based on a projected budget shortfall for the 2024-25 …

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School board tackles teacher staffing cuts


VIRGINIA- The ISD 2142 School Board saved it’s most challenging tasks for last on Tuesday, those related to the release of teaching staff.
Based on a projected budget shortfall for the 2024-25 school year, the board had already determined a need to eliminate 11 teaching positions which board members had hoped could be accomplished by eliminating positions held by probationary employees.
However, at Tuesday’s meeting the board had the unwelcome task of placing four part-time teachers with continuing contracts on unrequested professional leave, including half-time Title I teachers Amy Nelson at North Woods and Kathleen Meier at Tower-Soudan. State law allows districts to place continuing contract and tenured staff on unrequested leave in the event of discontinuance of a position, lack of pupils, or financial limitations. Staff placed on unrequested leave retain the right to be reappointed by the district to a similar assignment at the same hourly equivalency if one should arise.
Additionally, the board took on the annual task required by Minnesota law of notifying probationary teachers of contract non-renewals. Twelve teachers at North Woods, ten at Northeast Range, one at Tower-Soudan, and a total of 19 at South Ridge and Cherry were affected by the move. Teachers in affected positions have typically been hired in the absence of any regularly certified candidates for a position and have been teaching with a one-year temporary or limited license and are not eligible for continuing status. Provided their performance has been acceptable, these staff are typically eligible to reapply for these positions and be rehired if conditions permit.
“I know that this is a nonrenewal list, and it’s enormous,” board member Chris Koivisto said. “I see a lot of valuable people on here, so I always question the why of it.”
“It’s not a practice we would do if we could keep them,” Superintendent Reggie Engebritson responded. “If they have been in an out-of-field placement or they’re teaching in an area that they’re not licensed we’re required by law to do this. We do not have a blanket (policy that) all probationary teachers must go and then bring them back. If they’re probationary and appropriately licensed and we could use and need them, we would keep them.”
“Well, it’s always uncomfortable,” Koivisto said. “We’ve had some good experiences with lots of those teachers and I want them to know that. We don’t get in the news that we recognize the good work that they’re doing. Sometimes we have some easy ones, but this is not an easy one.”
“It’s unfortunate about the number of teachers but some of these teachers will come back, depending on licensing,” Engebritson said after the meeting.
In other action, the board:
• Approved the board’s response to the American Indian Parent Advisory Committee formulated by a board subcommittee and discussed and revised last week at a working session of the full board.
• Approved a new contract for the district’s paraprofessionals.
• Hired Brielle Anderson and Andreastar Traut as paraprofessionals at North Woods.
• Hired Sheila Moravitz as a paraprofessional for bus duty at Northeast Range.
• Hired Patty Skube as a substitute nutrition employee and Amanda Rasmussen as a substitute homebound teacher, both on an as-needed basis at NER.
• Hired Brett Brodeen as assistant track coach at NW.
Hired Kaileen Redmond as head volleyball coach and Rebecca Lappi as assistant coach for volleyball at NW.
• Accepted the resignation of Tower-Soudan paraprofessional Kelsey Cooke, effective April 2, and a request for voluntary reduction in hours dating from March 18.
• Formally terminated long-term T-S substitute teacher Jennifer Fredrickson, who completed her assignment on Nov. 27, 2023.
• Congratulated the Cherry boys basketball team on winning the Class A state championship.