A tie vote during Monday’s Waterloo School Board special meeting means the 2021-2022 calendar will come before the board again at its May 10 meeting.
As requested by the board earlier this month, the teachers asked to decrease it’s 10 professional development/collaboration days by two to increase the number of student contact days to 175. The second version of the calendar followed this request in addition to removing the after-school collaboration days and replacing it with a self-directed development day.
Board member Jim Setz initially motioned to approve the new calendar, until he heard comments from Superintendent Brian Henning. Setz then rescinded his motion and proposed accepting the calendar presented at the regular April meeting.
Henning said the board has the right to set the yearly school calendar, but noted the group had asked the teachers to create their dream calendar for 2021-2022. The document was returned to the board, which then “applied a new set of criteria,” the superintendent said.
“I think there’s been some damage done here to the staff and I don’t know what to say or do about that because I think what’s done is done,” Henning said. “You have to figure out as a school board if you’re going to let (teachers) do their thing, want to give them a voice and you want to let them do something, then let them do it.
“If you do that and it comes back and then you just override it or micromanage it, then you create hard feelings,” the superintendent said, adding it seemed like the teachers were given the chance to create a calendar but when it came before the board, the response was like “no, nice try but we’re going to do our own thing. That’s not easy to hear; it doesn’t make anyone feel good. It doesn’t make me feel good. You have to know that is what has happened here.”
Board President Nancy Thompson did not feel it was a new set of criteria, citing that for her the loss of non-student contact days was non-negotiable. Board Treasurer Karen Stangler said she didn’t agree that the board was trying to override what the teachers brought forward, it instead asked the teachers to reduce two professional development days and replace it with student contact days.
“That’s called compromise,” she said.
The superintendent said in a survey of staff, this year’s structure where there was no in-person instruction on Wednesdays allowed for valuable time for collaboration and to catch up. The original teacher-created calendar that came forward at the regular April meeting had a professional development/collaboration day each month. Henning said in order to follow the board’s directive, the staff had to reduce two non-student contact days “that teachers so desperately wanted.” The superintendent added the decision was about more than the calendar, it was about the relationship between the board and teachers.
“I think we owe it to the teachers to give it a try,” Henning said.
In rescinding his motion, Setz said the board should listen to what the teachers wanted, “that’s why we have the survey.”
Setz, Matt Schneider and Vice President Kate Lewandowski voted in favor of the previous calendar while Thompson, Stangler, and Clerk Deb Stein voted no. Charlie Crave, in his first board meeting, chose to abstain, as he did not have the chance to compare the two calendars.
The board then voted 5-2, with Setz and Schneider voting no, to bring the calendar up for a possible vote at its May regular meeting where if all seven board members voted and no one abstained, the vote would not be tied.