Center Program Operation Transfer Information

In August 2018, the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education voted to transfer operations of special education center-based programs to Kent ISD effective July 1, 2019. With mulitple locations throughout the county serving students from all of our districts and employing 400 plus staff, this transfer of operations is a huge and complicated undertaking that affects many families.

Kent ISD and GRPS are working together to ensure the smoothest and least disruptive transition possible. As the transition progresses, as questions are answered and as there are new developments, we will do our best to share that information here.

Center-Based Programs Director - Paul Dymowski

New Leader for Center-Based Special EducationPaul Dymowski to lead center based programming Programs

October 2018

Paul Dymowski was enthusiastic when asked about being chosen as director of the center-based Special Education program that is transferring to Kent ISD from Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS). “It’s a really exciting opportunity to build off the work Grand Rapids has already done,” he said after he was named to the new job on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Dymowski, who currently serves as transition coordinator, part of the Special Education Department at Kent ISD, was chosen from a field of 28 applicants, according to Superintendent Ron Caniff, who announced the appointment.

“We’re confident that Paul will do a great job in this new role and will assist us through the transition occurring within these programs,” Caniff said in a letter to the staff and parents at GRPS. “He is excited for this opportunity and looks forward to meeting and working with you in the near future.

“The position will play a key role in helping Kent ISD prepare for the transition of operating special education center programs this school year and will be the administrator responsible for overseeing the center programs on a day-to-day basis once these programs transfer to Kent ISD beginning in July 2019,” Caniff continued.

Read the rest of the story on School News Network.

Read the mlive story - Kent ISD Appoints Director of Center-Based Special Education Programs

FAQs - from Kent ISD's Human Resources

The following are some of the most commonly asked questions and answers regarding the transition of center-based program operation from Grand Rapids Public Schools to Kent ISD.

These FAQs were most recently updated Dec 19, 2018.

Q1 Will we be hired by Kent ISD?

A1: It is our goal to hire the GRPS Center program staff with a good performance record first before opening positions to external applicants.

Q2 What is “good performance record”?

A2: Kent ISD will review each staff member’s performance rating, disciplinary and attendance records to determine the employability of each staff member interested in transitioning to employment with Kent ISD.

Q3 Will I have to reapply and interview for my position?

A3: Once staffing levels are determined, Kent ISD will be reaching out to GRPS staff by the first of the year to assess which staff members are interested in transitioning to employment with Kent ISD. During the same period, we will hold several information sessions to address any unanswered questions and/or concerns. We want staff to make informed decisions about their employment. We will extend offers of employment to those staff in good standing who have indicated interest in employment with Kent ISD.  Staff will be asked to notify Kent ISD no later than April 1, 2019 of their acceptance of the offer of employment.  Upon acceptance, the Kent ISD HR staff will conduct several orientations to facilitate the new hire process (paperwork, fingerprint transfers, and drug screens). After April 1st, the positions may be posted for external applications.

Q4 Will I be able to remain with the program I am currently working in?       

A4: The goal is to allow current staff to stay with their current program to the extent possible.  We feel this will result in a more seamless transition.

Q5  Will I be able to maintain my current union status?

A5:  Kent ISD has several collective bargaining units:  KIEA (KCTC, KTC teachers and certified Staff), CTE Specialists (career and technical education specialists), Bus Drivers, Bus Aides, Kent Innovation High School Certified Staff, My School @ Kent Certified Staff, GSRP lead teachers, and GSRP Associate teacher.  Pursuant to the Michigan Public Employee Relations Act, we will evaluate each employee group to determine if they share a community of interest with one of our existing units. If so, the staff will be added into the appropriate unit.  Our classified staff (administrators, processional staff, administrative assistants, CTE classroom aides, generalists, program coordinators, business office staff, custodial staff, grounds staff and maintenance staff) are not organized.

Q6 Will my seniority and years of service transfer?

A6: Kent ISD will recognize the experience of all staff transitioning over.  This may, or may not, translate to the same number of years he/she has with GRPS.  We will look at the staff members’ current level and experience (where applicable) and attempt to place the staff member at an equivalent level on our salary schedules.  It is the goal that no staff member will take a reduction in pay as a result of the transition.

Q7 Will I lose my tenure status?

A7: Because you will technically be laid off from GRPS and hired as a new employee for Kent ISD, all staff who have attained tenure and are transitioning to a tenure eligible position (as defined by MDE) will be required to complete a two year probationary period before attaining tenure status with Kent ISD. Those tenure eligible staff who did not complete the probationary period with GRPS, will be required to serve the statutory initial 3-5  year probationary period before attaining tenure with Kent ISD.

Q8  Due to the loss of my tenure status, should I be concerned about job security?

A8: Because Kent ISD plans to hire staff in good standing, we have no concerns that staff will not continue to effectively perform his/her position.  All “new” Kent ISD staff will be provided with administrative supports and professional development/growth opportunities and guidance to support continuous improvement.  Also, due to the 2011 changes to the MI School Code and Teacher Tenure Act, tenure status is no longer the primary factor when making staff reduction and/or teacher placement decision; rather, the overall effectiveness rating will primarily determine job security.

Q9  What will happen with my sick leave accruals?  Will they transfer?

A9: We will work with GRPS to determine if any of the sick leave accruals are subject to pay off when your employment with them is severed as governed by your collective bargaining agreement.  Kent ISD will honor any uncompensated sick leave accruals.  The days earned with GRPS may be used for qualifying sick leave absence(s) with Kent ISD, but will be maintained in a separate accrual bank.  Only those days earned during your employment with Kent ISD will be eligible for payout pursuant to the requirements set forth in the applicable Kent ISD collective bargaining agreement or handbook for your position classification.

Q10 Will I be eligible for insurance and what about the monies paid toward my deductible?

A10: All employee groups within Kent ISD are eligible for insurance coverage. The coverage that is available (health, dental, vision and life), as well as the employee contributions, vary depending on your job type, the plan you elect and whether you are full or part-time. Currently, all staff, with the exception of the KIEA bargaining unit, will be covered by the West Michigan Health Insurance Pool as of the 2019-20 school year. The teachers and other certified staff included in the KIEA bargaining unit are covered by MESSA.  There are multiple plan options offered by both plans, including PPO and high deductible HSA plans. The deductible year for all of our plans run from January 1 through December 31st.  Thus, if you will be moving carriers, your deductibles will start over when you start employment with Kent ISD. Kent ISD also offers cash in lieu of benefits for staff members who have coverage through another source, which is generally 75% of the single subscriber cap.

Q11 Will the transition to employment with Kent ISD affect my retirement benefits?

A11: No, Kent ISD participates with the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS) in the same manner that GRPS does.  We will make the employer contributions for the plan you are enrolled in.  Because it is our goal to hold staff harmless in terms of compensation, there should be no detrimental effect on your final average compensation.

Q12 What is the maternity leave policy for Kent ISD?  What if I am due to give birth right before the school year starts? 

A12: Kent ISD has multiple options for staff, for maternity and other qualifying medical conditions. The guiding statute is the Family Medical Leave Act. In order to be eligible for the FMLA protection, however, you must work 1250 hours the previous school year.  Therefore, as a new employee with Kent ISD, you would technically not qualify for FMLA. Having said that, if you worked 1250 hours for GRPS during the 2018-19 school year, we will allow you up to 12 weeks of medical leave once you transition to Kent ISD. In general, we allow female staff members 6 weeks of leave for a vaginal birth and 8 weeks for a caesarean birth.  Male staff members are granted up to two weeks for paternity leave. The time frames may be extended based on medical necessity. You may use accrued sick leave during the leave.

Q13 Will Kent ISD offer year round contracts for services that are needed for students during the summer?

A13: While this largely a programmatic determination, if summer offerings are determined appropriate, staff will continue to be eligible for year round contracts with corresponding negotiated compensation.

Q14 What if I work part-time for GRPS Special Education and part-time for Kent ISD run Center-based programs?  Who will hold my contract?

A14: We deal with these types of arrangements with our itinerant staff frequently.  We will look at the FTE proportions and determine who is the appropriate district to hold the contract and which district will reimburse for their proportion of the cost.  Generally, these type of arrangements result in full-time status for the employee with salary and benefits determined by the district who is the employer of record.

Q15 What if I am an employee who has a contract with GRPS that goes through the summer of 2019.  Will Kent ISD assume the contract as of July 1, 2019?

A15: This is an issue that we are currently discussing. Regardless of who holds to contract, services will be provided to the students with the appropriate compensation.