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New staff, students and teachers for LOCS

August 21, 2013 - The Lake Orion Board of Education approved the hiring of four new teaching positions at their board meeting August 14, with another 4.7 positions to fill.

Of the 26 teachers officially laid off earlier this summer, 14 have been called back, leaving 12 still on the layoff list.

These teachers would have been rehired if they were certified to teach the specialized positions currently open and those that have already been filled.

Scott Finn of Lake Orion was hired as the high school drama/speech teacher; Kimberly Henry of Warren will fill the Blanche Sims/Paint Creek music teacher position; Brad Thomas of Lapeer was hired as the high school CI teacher, and Monica Cotton of Berkley will be the high school art teacher. Cotton will be working as a .5 Full Time Equivalency (FTE) teacher, half a full time position.

"Theres a few teachers in there, there might be 20 teachers but ten of them might be .5 here and there, so a job might be split a couple of different ways," Larry Lobert said, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for LOCS.

"In fact you will see that those jobs are all kind of hard to find," he continued, "and there are no generic elementary school teachers on there or we would be calling back the people that we had."

He also stressed that while LOCS would be hiring 8.7 positions for the upcoming school year, they will still be operating under an 18.3 FTE position budget cut.

"With the budget constraints that we have, we knew to balance the books that there was just no way that we were going to run this year without anywhere from 18 to 22 cuts," he said.

Ten teachers took the severance incentive offered at the end of the 2012/2013 school year (which awarded typically veteran teachers an incentive to retire). And, five teachers resigned after teacher layoffs were announced earlier this summer. With the 12 teachers still on the layoff list, the ten that took the incentive and the five additional resignations, LOCS will be paying 18.3 FTE positions less this year, allowing them to hire the 8.7 positions required for this school year.

Currently there is an Oakview Middle School choir position still available, a math/chemistry position valued at .7 FTE at the high school, a full time elementary art position and a full time elementary media specialist needed.

Administration was hoping for a bigger boom in Schools of Choice (SOC) applications received earlier in the summer—which could have potentially hired back one of those elementary teachers laid off Lobert said. School officials are are pleased with the 49 SOC students who have enrolled so far for this coming school year.

"I think really we had a pretty good response," Heidi Kast, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, said.

"When you look at all the other schools, our decision was made a little bit later. So I think for the timing of it, we actually we did pretty well."

There are still 97 slots available for SOC kids, so the district s re-opening the enrollment window, from August 19 to September 6, the Friday of the first week of school.

"These are seats that we already have, but they just are not filled," Kast continued.

Paint Creek elementary is already full. The next round of SOC students will be placed at Pine Tree, Blanche Sims, Webber and Orion Oaks elementary schools.

Currently 25 kindergarteners, 27 first graders and 28 second graders have all been assigned a school, coming from Brandon, Pontiac and Romeo districts to name a few. The Learning Options SOC program will remain open all year round.

Although LOCS only opened SOC for K-2, there is a possibility of extending the program to different grades in the future.

"Whether we extend beyond second grade and then how far are we going to go, would it just be to fifth, would it include middle school, high school—those are decisions that are going to have to be made," Kast said.

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