Lansing Teachers Face Layoffs

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The district and union agree, the new contract sets Lansing schools on a path to solvency, but no doubt, teachers will bear the cost.

"It means longer days for me, it means a lot more time at home because it's not possible to get everything done during the day now, so it's going to be that much more that's not going to happen during the school day," said Lexa Bell, a teacher at Averill Elementary School

Starting the next school year, teachers like Bell won't have time during the day to plan for lessons. Instead, they'll use the time to take on teaching music, art and P.E.

"We kind of wanted to redesign the arts, music and P.E. program to bring in community expertise. There are relationships with Wharton, Michigan State University and the arts community which is very vibrant here in Lansing," said Lansing School District Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul.

However, some teachers who specialize in those areas could lose their jobs. Currently, they step in for classroom teachers during their planning time. The union says taking that time out of a day affects jobs at all levels.

"We're going to see a 20% reduction at our secondary schools as teachers pick up and teach during their planning time," said Patti Seidel, president of the Lansing School Education Association.

According to Seidel, without these concessions, everyone may have to take a pay cut. As for the changes, Bell feels confident they can make it work.

"I'm very fortunate that I have dual certification. I'm certified in music and I've already been talking to the other second grade teachers in my building."

Teachers who lose their planning time will be compensated with a $5000 stipend. The superintendent said she's not sure how many layoffs there will be until she knows how many teachers are already planning to retire.

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