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Teachers vent concerns to Wausau school board

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Wausau teachers union president Mary Jarvis addresses school board members December 14, 2009, during their regular meeting.  The teachers union has no confidence in Superintendent Steve Murley's leadership and has called for him to be fired.
Wausau teachers union president Mary Jarvis addresses school board members December 14, 2009, during their regular meeting. The teachers union has no confidence in Superintendent Steve Murley's leadership and has called for him to be fired.
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) – Teachers frustrated by a perceived lack of district leadership voiced their concerns to Wausau’s school board Monday night.

The public input was the latest development in the teacher union’s effort to have Superintendent Steve Murley removed from his post.

The board simply listened as nearly a dozen people, including teachers and district residents, expressed their views over a half-hour period.

“Because I am an advocate for students, I am frustrated and disheartened with the leadership and educational progress of our district,” said teacher Paula Hase. “I expect more and I demand more.”

Hase and others suggested Murley's lack of leadership has led to two budget options that could decimate the district.

But Murley said the options he's presented are the only way to erase an $8 million shortfall over the next three years.

One option would require 40 teachers to retire over the next three years or else the district would be forced to make deep layoffs at the elementary, middle and high schools.

The second option would not fill vacancies gained through attrition and would require teachers to pick up teaching a sixth class. Most currently teach five classes and have a study hall or other supervisory responsibility.

Murley also said that the district has cut 10 administrators and that it's time for other employee groups to “do more with less.”

A handful of speakers supported board members in their efforts to freeze teacher pay.

“The teachers should not be asking for a pay raise at this time considering that many of the parents of the students they teach and others who pay property taxes which pay their salaries have a difficult time making ends meet,” said parent Traci Yackel.

“It is completely beyond my understanding of how you could come up with a 12 percent tax hike when the people in this community are hurting,” added resident Ed Marek.

The board won't act on either option until February or March.

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