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Board Members Continue Six-Period Debate

OSWEGO, NY – Two board of education members defended their stance that teachers should teach six periods out of their nine-period days.

During the public session of Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Ann Losurdo took board member Fran Hoefer to task for his views on a six-period day and teachers in general.

Ann Losurdo speaks during the public session of Tuesday's meeting.

Ann Losurdo speaks during the public session of Tuesday's meeting.

“Growing up, my parents warned me not to believe everything I heard or read. I am passing that warning along to the residents of Oswego with regard to Mr. Hoefer’s unfound allegations of teachers not spending time on what they’ve been hired to do,” she said. “I would like Mr. Hoefer to produce factual proof, not fabricated ‘proof’ that the high school teachers (or any other teachers in the district for that matter) are doing less than they were hired to do.”

She accused the maverick board member of “crunching numbers” to prove his argument.

“Just walk into any building at any time and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a regular class of 11 students (as Hoefer claims),” she continued. “But Mr. Hoefer would make you think that is the norm and the district can afford to fire 17 percent of its teachers.”

Before pressing for high school teachers to teach a sixth class, Hoefer should make it his business as an elected representative of the people to visit the school and familiarize himself with the scheduling process and all the activities, not just assigned duties, that the teachers are expected by the administration to perform or participate in during the contractual school day, Losurdo said.

That means, she continued, time spent contacting parents, attending meetings, remediation of students due either to absences or lack of student understanding, discipline, grading papers, creating lessons, test preparation, test item analysis, curriculum mapping,  curriculum gap analysis, and as a result of the findings of the analysis, make the necessary curriculum or lesson changes etc.

Hoefer has also been outspoken about teachers leaving school during the day.

They are allowed to do so by contract; and if Hoefer isn’t happy with that, she suggested he address it in the next contract negotiation.

Fran Hoefer listens to the discussion Tuesday night.

Fran Hoefer listens to the discussion Tuesday night.

“If a teacher is seen out of the building during the school day, did it ever occur to Mr. Hoefer or any other city resident that the person might have a personal or sick day?” she asked.

Those who abuse or ignore the contract should be dealt with by the building administrator, she added.

Comparing working in the public sector to working in the private sector is comparing apples to oranges, she told the board.

“The citizens of Oswego deserve something that, so far Mr. Hoefer, you have not provided, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” Losurdo concluded.

Board member John Dunsmoor said he didn’t understand why people were upset with Hoefer and himself for suggesting teachers teach one more period a (school) day.

“It is a win-win for everybody,” he said. “It puts teachers in front of students; gives them more time on task. I’m still confused as to why people are taking a shot at Fran like he’s trying to make somebody do more work, or myself. Because, every time I look at it, you’re teaching six periods, you’re going to lose a duty when you’re teaching six periods. To me it’s all been common sense from day one where you brought it up. I wasn’t looking to make someone work harder. It was common sense that they’d be in front of students more often.”

He said he didn’t understand why people were getting offended by discussion about the possibility of going to a six-period school day.

“It’s a win-win for the students. It’s a win-win for the teachers. It’s a win-win for the administrators to have an easier scheduling pattern,” he said. “For me it’s a win-win for the taxpayers because what’s going to happen with that is when you do have schedule times more open then you’ll be able to fill the schedule; I’d like to see it on paper to prove that fact, but you’re going to end up with an even disperse of students in the classes and if some people do retire you might end up being able to free up a few spots.”

He said he doesn’t see Hoefer as being malicious in proposing the idea.

“I think he’s looking for a better system for our education,” he said.

“When you make snide remarks or nasty remarks about people that work you and then you turn around and say, ‘Gee we’d like you to do this or that’ (they are reluctant),” board member Dave White pointed out. “I understand the frustration some times when you want to do these things, you get bogged down with contractual obligations, you have to know in relation to the space we have how many teachers can we do this with.”

In his experience, he has found that it is hard to get someone to do something if you’re calling him names, White said alluding to Hoefer’s long-standing feud with teachers.

He should tone down the rhetoric a little bit, White said, adding beating someone over the head with a hammer doesn’t work.

“I think part of the problem with the six-period discussion is that emotions get carried away,” White noted.

“There is definitely a misunderstanding as to what a teacher’s day is like,” agreed board member Tom DeCastro.

He suggested that Dunsmoor “take Fran by the hand” and spend two or three days in Oswego High School “and find out what your dedicated teachers are doing daily. And then, from that, see if you still think that six classes is going to a win-win because in the long-run you’re going to end up hurting the kids.”

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