Final plan approval projected for April 28 meeting.
Monday night, Macon County’s Board of Education expressed its continued disappointment in state legislation requiring the district to select 25 percent of eligible teachers in the school system to be awarded a fouryear contract and $500 bonus.
The state mandated changes to teacher tenure laws in North Carolina requiring local districts to develop a plan to select 25 percent of teachers in the district to be offered extended contracts in exchange for the voluntary relinquishing of their tenure status.
Macon County is among several districts in the state who have spoken out against the changes, and continued to express their opposition Monday night with the passing of a resolution.
“This school system has far more than 25 percent of its teachers that deserve a pay raise given the excellent services they provide to our students; and therefore, the 25 percent mandate process is divisive, inequitable and demeaning to our teachers,” reads the resolution.
The resolution says that the language of the legislation is vague and subject to multiple, inconsistent interpretations that will inevitably result in future lawsuits. The resolution further objects to the convoluted nature of the law and the lack of direction leaving local districts open to possible litigation.
School board members unanimously supported the resolution citing support for teachers and solidarity as motive. The resolution further explains that there is no clear measurement tool defined to evaluate teacher performance to determine the 25 percent and the legislation’s attempt to move toward a meritbased pay system was missed because teachers were not given prior notice of the criteria necessary to earn additional compensation.
The resolution further expressed concern that the only funds available for the proposed bonus incentive exists within the current year’s budget, with no guarantee that future lawmakers will honor the budget item.
With funds already being budgeted for this year, the resolution respectfully requests that the state allow local districts to retain those funds to develop a compensation plan that recruits, retains and rewards excellence in teaching.
Although board members unanimously voted to adopt the resolution and send it to state officials, because changes are currently still law, the board moved forward with adopting a selection plan for determining the 25 percent of teachers to be offered contracts.
Board of Education Chairman Jim Breedlove reluctantly addressed the agenda item.
“Now on to something we are all dreading,” he said.
The selection plan
Macon County Director of Personnel Dan Moore presented the board with the selection plan that outlined the requirements and timeline needed to select teachers for the fouryear contracts.
According to Moore, Macon County has 272 teachers that are considered eligible for consideration for a four-year contract by state standards. The plan also explains that the state mandates that only 25 percent, or 68 teachers, can be selected in the district to be offered a contract.
In the first of six steps of the selection process, determination of eligibility is based on only one thing: The teacher must have been employed by the Macon County School system for at least three consecutive years.
Step two offers the opportunity to “opt out.” Of those teachers who pass the first step of eligibility, those who choose not to accept a four-year contract should it be offered, shall be removed from consideration. Teachers who submit separation or retirement forms will also be removed from consideration.
Step three determines proficiency. In this section, proficient means that a classroom teacher was rated proficient or higher on all standards of the instrument in which the teacher was evaluated during the 2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years. For certified non-classroom teachers evaluated on instruments that do not use the rating “proficient” the superintendent shall determine the rating or score of the instrument that is the most similar to the proficient rating.
The purpose of step four is to disqualify teachers who have demonstrated inadequate performance of conduct during the last three school years, receiving any of the following disciplinary actions:
Step five implements the lottery process. Teachers who qualify to this point will be randomly selected to receive the offer of a four-year contract.
In step six, the superintendent will submit a list of selected teachers to the Board of Education by Monday, May 24. The board has the option of approving the list or removing any selected teacher, and in his/her place, adding another eligible teacher.
After board approval in open session, the superintendent will make the four-year contract offer to the selected teachers. The teachers will have until June 30 to sign and return the contract or acknowledge acceptance of the contract. If a teacher forfeits the right to the contract, the superintendent or board may not offer the contract to another teacher.
Because of pending litigation on the state level regarding the legislation changes, board members elected to wait until the April 28 board meeting to formally adopt the plan.