School administration responds to teachers and citizens questions of what, and how much in effort for transparency – PART 1 OF A 2 PART SERIES
By: Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND – The future of the Loveland City School District took an unplanned detour when voters said a resounding “No” defeating the combination levy/bond issue for a “Master Plan” for the schools on November 5, 2019.
Loveland school teachers marched into the cafeteria in a solidarity show of support of teacher’s who were cut (Photo by Chuck Gibson)
It began with the November ballot Loveland school levy defeat. The school administrators and Board of Education responded by holding a public community session. They formed an ad-hoc “School Advisory Committee” made up of a cross-section of community members. A new plan for a March ballot 6.95 mill operating levy required a commitment to cut $2.7 million dollars from 2019/2020 Loveland Schools budget. The questions started, and have not stopped.
What’s the plan? What exactly is being cut? What are the details?
Questions came from all directions. There has been a public outcry for details of the plan, and the cuts. The social media storm is filled with messages of distrust and lack of transparency by the school administration and board of education.
There is a process. That’s the simplest answer to all the questions. A post on the school website defined the process of determining how those decisions are made. Right away it also listed specific reductions in planned expansion, new teaching positions, cancelled consultant and contract services, departmental budget cuts, and elimination of five (5) high school teaching positions and 13-14 combined current staff and two future forecasted teaching positions.
Loveland Middle School teacher Katie Rose is right in the center of the storm. She is President of the Loveland Education Association, the representative arm of the teachers union. The announcement of reduction in force meant she had to inform teachers their positions had been eliminated. LEA President Katie Rose shared her questions and point of view in a conversation with Loveland Beacon late in January.
“I am their rep,” said Rose. “They elected me to advocate, to be their voice. I need to have answers. They have families. It is their livelihood. If the district knows, they have every right to know so they can act accordingly, to plan for their future.”
The cutting of $2.7 million dollars to balance a 2019/2020 school year budget in the face of a 2019 operating levy defeat already cost valued teachers their positions in Loveland Schools at the end of the school year. Students, teachers, staff and the community carried signs and spoke out in support of teacher and Coach Chris Redmond and teacher Kasey Watkins. Their comments, received with enthusiastic applause by a crowd of about 200 – mostly teachers and students, characterized Redmond and Watkins as valued members of the faculty who care for the Tiger Family of students and staff beyond just teaching in the classroom.
Supporters for Loveland Schools and the community showed their Tiger Pride in front of LHS during Open House Wednesday, January 29th (Photo By Chuck Gibson)
Teachers and students held up signs in supprt of teachers Mr. Chris Redmond and Ms Kacey Watkins (Photo:Chuck Gibson)
Rose is clear teachers and staff, potentially affected by budget cuts, want answers from the school administration sooner than later.
“We need the district to be transparent about reduction and cuts already taking place,” Rose said. “The community needs to know people have already been cut.”
That’s the message Rose has for school leaders and all of the community.
“Everybody needs to hear the message,” she said. “All of the public needs to be educated about the decisions they (school administration) are making.”
Rose believes more information about the decisions being made will influence how the public feels about the upcoming March levy. It goes beyond the schools; it is about community for her. She points to the teachers as residents of Loveland, who have “bought into” the community.
“There are teachers who have been here over 30 years,” said Rose. “Teachers in Loveland, we are here forever. We are the long-term investment.”
Rose understands the citizen’s outcry for more transparency. She understands everyone’s stake in the outcome; everyone’s right to know. Her feelings of understanding extend to Superintendent Crouse and members of the Board of Education as well.
“I empathize with Amy because I’ve had a little bit of a stressful time, I can’t even imagine what she’s been through personally and professionally,” Rose said. “The people in the board office; I think they have great heart. I think they have good intentions. I have no ill will; there’s no animosity. I really respect the board members.”
Members of the Loveland Schools Board of Education during the business meeting Tuesday, January 21, 2020 (Photo:Chuck Gibson)
It is not about concerns of trust and transparency by the Superintendent or the Board of Education for Katie Rose. It is about doing her job as an advocate for the teachers; members of the Loveland Education Association. Rose advocates for the community as well suggesting more details about specific plans, cuts, programs and exact dollar amounts is important to show the school administration is being thoughtful throughout the process. Concerns about the potential spread of misinformation should not rule the decision-making process.
“Fear of taking a misstep is paralyzing them,” said Rose. “People need confidence they can make a decision. This is a time we need decisiveness more than ever before. Everything we do, we do to educate. We are fully committed to providing the best possible education for our students.”
Loveland School Teacher and LEA President Katie Rose hopes more information will have a positive impact on the March School Levy (Photo by Chuck Gibson)
The thought of a failed March levy is very emotional for Rose. It is a very complex issue; one she, and the Loveland City School District, never had to address before. Rose worries about her students. She worries about the impact of a loss on them. She feels more detailed information about plans by the school administration and Board of Education will have a positive impact on voters in March.
“This is not easy, these are friends who are committed and passionate about Loveland Schools,” Rose said. “We educate. We are connected to the Loveland Community.”
Click here for more on the March Loveland Schools operating levy