Same-Day Extra Help Not Helpful, Kinnelon High Rep Says
Teachers' negotiations in fact-finding stage as board member urges teachers to be more flexible.
Months after Kinnelon teachers began only offering extra help after school on the same day, the board of education's new student representative said Thursday students are feeling negatively impacted by the situation.
Anthe Stylianou, a junior at Kinnelon High School, spoke about the challenges the same-day extra help has presented to students. She said if students needed assistance in more than one curriculum area, they were forced to choose which one to seek extra help in for that week.
"It was hard for [students] to attend both teachers' classes in a matter of an hour," she said.
Stylianou suggested the teachers consider breaking the same-day extra help up by subject, offering, for example, language arts extra help on one day and mathematics extra help on another. But Kinnelon Board of Education Vice President Keith Dama said the teachers are only offering the extra help on the same day to prove a point as they continue through negotiations for a new Kinnelon Education Association (KEA) contract. He urged the teachers to "start adopting some flexibility in your availability."
"It only hurts the students," he said.
Board members learned of the teachers offering same-day extra help in September and responded during a board of education meeting. Several members said they were concerned about the same-day extra help. Interim Superintendent Diane DiGiuseppe confirmed that the teachers were only offering the after school help on one day because they were "exercising the language in their contracts."
But KEA President Tom Shannon said Monday that teachers have been flexible about the extra help.
"Teachers have the autonomy in choosing which day of extra help they desire," he said. "I know some teachers have extra help on days other than Thursdays and that teachers have been shown flexibility with these days all year long."
The KEA and Kinnelon Board of Education have been negotiating a new contract for more than a year. As of Thursday, Dama, who serves as the board's negotiations liaison, said the parties are waiting on results from a state-appointed fact-finder's report, which could take months. After the report is released, each party can choose whether or not to accept the recommendations made before moving forward with ratification of a new contract.
In the meantime, Dama expressed disappointment with the KEA members regarding same-day extra help. He called it an "inappropriate use of students as leverage against the board."
"Actions like this are not constructive and hurt the relationship between teachers and students, not teachers and the board," he said.