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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.”

7 Comments

  1. I see that John D. has jumped right to Fran’s defense. How can John say that it wasn’t malicious after Fran wrote that opinion letter in the local paper??? I voted for John and now I’m sorry I did. He is not what I thought he was.

  2. 1) “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.”

    Ms. Losurdo should take a good hard look at the graduation numbers provided by the state. Fran Hoefer does not fabricate these numbers. The graduation numbers speak loud and clear about OCTA’s ability to do what they have been hired to do.

    2) “But Mr. Hoefer would make you think that is the norm and the district can afford to fire 17 percent of its teachers.”

    Mr. Hoefer said nothing of the sort about 11 kids to a class. The class sizes in OCSD are on the small side of average. The school district can in fact afford to fire 17% of its staff without affecting class sizes one bit. All it takes is teachers working harder.

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

    Yes Ms. Losurdo is right there. Just like Ms. Losurdo wants Fran Hoefer to go into the school and receive perspective of the teachers, perhaps our pampered OCTA members should learn how it is like to live a working-class life in the private sector. Unlike many teachers, those in the private sector work very hard and are not warded with 22% raises. They cannot afford their escalating school tax bill. Why should the taxpayers constantly be stretched thinner while OCTA has NEVER ONCE given ANYTHING up. I repeat — NEVER! Our school board has constantly provided them with more of our money and less work. Maybe it is time for the teachers to feel the affects of budget problems — after all, they are the cause of them. Between 90% of their health care being covered to their outrageous pensions and 22% raises, we would never have problems if it were not for OCTA’s contract. Why is Ms. Losurdo so offended over the idea of working harder to earn her money?

    Like it or not, the citizens are getting fed up with OCTA and their lifestyle. Notice that promptly after voting for the 22% raise, 3 board members were voted off by the taxpayers first chance we got. The same fate will befall Jim Tschudy. The same fate will befall OCTA’s newest puppets Dave White and Tom DeCastro. Fran Hoefer and John Dunsmoor were elected by the public. The public endorses their views and they have every right to speak them. I for one am sick of paying teachers’ salaries to sit around and do next to nothing.

  3. Sorry you voted for Dunsmoor? With out him the school board would have paid 10’s of thousands more for new turf for our kids to play on againg costing the tax payers money. Then the school board wanted to hold him liable, when he did it all for free.. Hmmmmmmmmm

  4. Sorry I missed this part of what Ms. Losurdo said:

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

    I don’t know exactly how Ms. Losurdo feels she can argue with numbers. Unless she has learned the “new math” that is so prevalent amongst the school district’s supporters. Like the “new math” that Veronica Baker recently used to try to argue against the fact that 4100 divided by 370 equals approximately 11. Or the new math that Bill Crist and Pete Colucci used in May’s budget newsletter to somehow try to indicate that the budgeted cost per student is $7000 when the budget is $69 million for 4100 students. Or the new math that OCTA uses when they try to tell us that 1.04 to the 5th power does not equal approximately 1.22. Or the new math that they use when they try to tell us that 40 minutes times 5 periods equals more than 200 minutes of work per day.

    If Ms. Losurdo does not want Mr. Hoefer to crunch numbers, does she instead want him to live in the fantasy world that the 4-person board majority lives in? Any rational individual can see that most of what the district administrators and teachers say comes from a world of delusion. Would Ms. Losurdo be happier if Fran ignored the facts and instead painted an inaccurately rosey picture like almost everyone else affiliated with the district? Might I remind Ms. Losurdo, we did not need her permission to elect Fran Hoefer to the board three times.

    Editor’s Note: Lumped into the category of “teacher” are resource and special education classroom teachers, AIS teachers, ESL teachers, teachers of the hearing impaired, guidance counselors, speech therapists and others, who by the nature of the services they provide do have fewer students per class, Losurdo said.

    Simply dividing the number of students by the number of teachers doesn’t fit the scenario that there are 11 kids in any given classroom, she explained.

  5. Someone who knows…yes I am sorry. The statements that John makes where he doesn’t understand why people would feel upset shows he doesn’t really connect with the district. If he was running on the platform of using his farm equiptment to help out the district, great. But he didn’t, he told us that he was going to try and bring the district together and make it more effective and efficient. He is showing his true colors now I suppose. I’ve lost a lot of respect for him. You don’t understand that the district needs to have contracts to protect themselves from lawsuits if anyone gets hurt doing the work (installing the new turf). The district can’t just say thanks for doing this-then someone gets injured installing it and turns around and sues the district for literally millions. The need the contracts for protection so this doesn’t happen. Every district does it for work done at their facilities…it is actually quite common. And again Jerry is giving nothing but hearsay. Nothing he says is true. He is doing the same thing as Fran, throwing out big numbers and exaggerating things to make his points credible. The OCTA has given up things in their contract….hey Jerry-why don’t you add an hour onto your work day and don’t get paid for it. That’s what the teachers did a few years ago when they were asked to do it. Since it was a modificaion of the contract, there had to be a vote of the members and it passed overwhelmingly-yes. So don’t say they’ve never given up anything. If you need more, I’d be happy to list them. I can find proof and numbers and not just guess or make up numbers.

  6. Ann Losurdo defends the teachers spending time outside of the building during the school day and in the next breath, tells us how overworked they are. Hmm…..

    Seems to me that if teachers have time to run errands, work out, or go out to lunch during their contractual day, that they have more than enough time to teach an additional period.

    Sick and personal days are preposterous when they already have more long weekends and week-long breaks during their 9.5 month year than I can possibly count. People often forget this benefit and its cost to the taxpayers. Each teacher costs us about $2000 more than they actually make in salary and benefits with the amount we have to pay to substitute teachers. Take away all of their personal days and half of their sick days and that is almost a half a million dollars in savings.

  7. Thank God for Fran Hoefer! This is precisely why I voted for him…to squash the status quo of too much school tax and poor results. Teachers better wake up and smell the crap we in the private sector have been smelling for too many years when it comes to the economy.

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