At the upcoming Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) Board meeting, WAPS administrators will present an overview regarding the termination and non-renewal of teaching contracts for 17 probationary teachers, a term that refers to any new staff member within the first three years of working in a Minnesota public school district. The list includes a wide range of positions, from a third-grade Jefferson Elementary teacher, to a special education teacher at Winona Senior High School (WSHS), and a physical education teacher at the Winona Area Learning Center (WALC).
“It is a routine resolution that we adopt each year,” WAPS Director of Human Resources Pat Blaisdell explained. “We are not eliminating 17 [teachers], we will probably hire back many or most of those teachers, but at this point in the planning stage we don’t know for certain how many teachers we’re going to need at each grade level or each subject area, because we are still working with projections in terms of enrollment.”
Minnesota law requires that a district must give a contracted teacher formal notice of termination or non-renewal or else it will be seen as an automatic contract renewal, which explains the reason for the list of 17 educators.
“It is pretty standard,” Blaisdell said of the number of layoffs. “It can be more and it can be less, but this is pretty typical. It really depends on how many probationary teachers we have.”
During the three-year probationary period, the district has the ability to let teachers go. “[In the probationary period] you are assessing their abilities, and you may let them go if they do not pass their probationary period,” Blaisdell explained.
But according to Blaisdell, the list of 17 terminations and non-renewals is not directly tied to the budget or pending contract negotiations, but instead, it refers to the current process of determining student enrollment and class registration.
“These layoff notices are not really tied to a reduction in the budget,” she explained. “It is more of what the needs are in terms of staffing at each grade level, [at each] building.”
Blaisdell also spoke specifically regarding the role that high school students play in terms of staffing, which is again determined by the classes students choose, as well as the popularity of elective classes. However, on the list of the 17 probationary teachers, most were from the elementary school level, with only one teacher on the list classified as an elective teacher from WSHS.
The following probationary teachers in the WAPS school district are expected to be given notice at Thursday’s board meeting: Julie Bailey, Goodview, kindergarten; Amber Barnard, Jefferson, third grade; Sean Bowers, WALC, physical education; Britta Browne, Goodview, third grade; Kimberly Moran, Goodview, fourth grade; Amy Krzewinski, district-wide, special education; Bridgette Malchow, WSHS, special education; Amanda Schultz, WALC/Jefferson/Goodview, art; Heather Beier, Jefferson, English language learners; Tamara Eastep, early childhood, early childhood family education; Sherry Dahlen, WSHS, art; Byron Gilliland, Jefferson, first grade; Kyle Martin, Madison/Goodview, fourth grade; Amanda Schewe, Rollingstone, third grade; Alison Babler, Winona Middle School, science; Jean Bronk, Goodview, early childhood special education; Brad Groth, Washington-Kosciusko, first grade.