By Mary Cooley, BND
Belleville District 201 capped off the first day of school Monday with a meeting, in which they officially made the teachers very happy.
The board approved collective bargaining contracts with the teachers union and the teacher assistants council. The four-year contract secures four steps on the salary schedule, says Local 434 President Cyndi Oberle-Dahm, and recovers two more steps. A step refers to an incremental increase in salary.
The contract adds some stipend positions and re-structures the steps. Assistant Superintendent Brian Mentzer confirmed it does not increase the pay schedule.
“We feel overall that it is a huge success, and our membership is extremely happy,” Oberle-Dahm said.
The teacher’s contract also adds a mentor program equally funded by the union and district, in which new teachers will be paired with more experienced teachers.
“It’s something we’re especially proud of. … We feel that that’s something that’s been left out of our contract, we hire them and then there’s no one that they can really go to,” she said.
Oberle-Dahm said details of the mentoring program are still being worked out.
Superintendent Jeff Dosier praised the teachers’ and teacher assistants’ representatives for their “very professional” approach to the negotiations.
The board accepted the resignations of several teachers and assistants, including the Belleville East math team coach and the Belleville West math team coach and Scholar Bowl coach. They also:
▪ For Belleville East, the board hired Marlene Cunico as a part-time social studies teacher and Evelyn Reece as a part-time English teacher.
▪ For Belleville West, the board hired science teacher Riah Haswell as a full-time teacher, part-time teachers Zach Zellmer for social studies and Ross Peters for physical education. Todd Baltz was named the West driver ed/health/P.E. department chair for the 2015-16 school year.
▪ Hired Preston Foehrkalb as a social studies teacher at the Alternative School
▪ Hired Amanda Johnson as a speech language pathologist
▪ Hired Jayna Spillan as a part-time science teacher on both campuses
▪ The board also hired four teacher assistants for East and five for West
▪ Andrea Gannon of the Alternative Education program said only one student still needs to prove residency; all others were successfully registered. The school has 38 returning students, 16 new students and two who transitioned back to the school, she said.
She said several students are taking at least one class at East.
“They have East IDs and look the same as anyone else on campus,” she said.
▪ The Special Education director said enrollment was still changing “minute by minute,” and Melissa Taylor would have enrollment figures at the September board meeting.
“We have a group of students who tend to come in and enroll when they see the buses,” she said.
Taylor said this year, the window for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing, also known as PARCC, is “up to us to set,” and they’ll be looking at the calendar at a meeting later this week to find a 30-day period. She said a challenging factor is the college entrance exams. She said the ACT’s contract with the state, which provides tests to high school juniors for free, is up.
“We would like to not have the ACT in the PARRC window,” she said.
Taylor also noted the first Wednesday of every month, starting in October, will have school starting at 9:30 a.m. to allow for teacher development.
▪ Belleville West’s Rich Mertens and East’s Jason Karstens both touted the first football scrimmage on Friday and praised their building’s staffs for first-day-of-school preparation.
“There’s nothing better than shiny floors; it really goes a long way,” Karstens said.