La Crosse teachers ask district for a smaller class load

Teachers in La Crosse School District ask board members to change the required class load from 6 to 5 classes

Teachers in the La Crosse School District are asking board members to change the required class load from six to five classes.

For years high school teachers in the La Crosse School District were used to teaching in five out of the eight class periods a day, but that changed when Act 10 was passed in 2011.

“In the post Act 10 world we had to cut millions and millions of dollars,” Steve Salerno, associate superintendent for the La Crosse School District, said.

To offset those losses district officials decided to require new teachers to teach an additional class.

“Ideally that would be a temporary fix, the budgets haven’t gotten a lot better,” John Havlicek, president of the teacher union, said.

Four years later the change has stuck and now about 25 percent of teachers teach an additional period.

“It’s become very evident that that decision has had an unintended consequence both on our employees and on our students,” Steve Salerno said.
“The kids lost access, the kids lost time,” Havlicek said.

Now teachers want to go back to the old way. Out of eight class periods all teachers would teach during five, have two for prep time and grading and an additional period for them to build closer relationships with students.

“It would be a little boost, a little reminder, at times, to get their work done to study for the test and things like that,” Havlicek said.

To do that, though, the district would either need to hire additional staff an option that could cost between $600,000 to $900,000 dollars, or increase class size.

“I kind of call it ‘Sophie’s Choice,’ you kind of have to make a decision based upon not that many great options that are out there,” Salerno said.

A vote on the work load proposal could come during the school board’s next meeting in the beginning of March.