Letter to the Community

Dear Madera family,

One of the greatest strengths of our community is a steadfast determination to do what is right for our children and a willingness to fight for what we believe is right for them. This week, your care and concern, for your children, our school and our teachers, was made evident when we learned that some of our fine teachers will be leaving us. I know there’s a desire to fight to keep them so I want to clarify and explain a bit about the situation.

First, no teachers were laid off this year. Hurray for no pink slips! This means that all our teachers have jobs in the district for the coming school year. Last year, as a district, we lost some excellent teachers as a result of budget cuts but thankfully not this year.

In public education, teachers are hired by the district, not to a particular school. Most everything about their work is laid out in a contractual agreement which is legally binding; this includes when and how people secure positions in schools and the process by which this happens. Because our teachers were hired when they were last year, their positions were required to be posted for internal bidding this year. This is the process outlined for our district in the agreement between the United Teachers of Richmond (UTR) and WCCUSD.  It’s not something anyone at this point can change.

As a community we can be glad because the word is out that good things are happening at Madera. We had a huge number of teachers desiring to fill the four positions we had available. For each position, I was able to meet with the most senior teachers who had expressed interest. I had some say but seniority was the primary determinant. Through this initial round of placement, we were able to offer Eric Danysh one of the 5th grade positions at Madera which he accepted (yeah for us!), a position for which he will not need to reapply for next year. We will welcome three other fine teachers who are looking forward to joining our team. More about them will be coming.

The thing with education is that in what at times seems like such a ridiculous and crazy system, things tend to work out in ways we never would have expected. Sometimes we have something to learn or give, in a place or capacity that we wouldn’t have imagined. The work we do is so rooted in relationships that change is often painfully hard. We bond over the intense work that we do and become so close.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to work with Jennette Gay, Heather Best and Stephanie King this year. They are incredibly wonderful, highly skilled teachers who have become greatly valued members of our staff and school community. We all, mostly the children, have been blessed to have them with us. Now, they move to new posts where their talents will be used to benefit other schools in the district. I feel very conflicted – ever so sad to see them go, knowing the loss it will be and how much I will miss them, but confident that they will be a tremendous asset to their new school communities. Professionally, having secured positions during these “rounds”, they will be secure in their positions next year.

Many of you have asked what we can do. The very best thing we can do is to find ways to show our gratitude for the wonderful year we’ve had with these beloved teachers. They have gone the extra mile at every turn for the benefit of our kids so let’s celebrate them in these last weeks of school, encouraging them as they deal with their own grief of leaving Madera and embark on their next assignment.

Please, don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

Grateful, as always, for all of you and your commitment to our school,

Alison Makela