Change creates tenure hiatus

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The last group of teachers to get tenure after three years of teaching was approved by Marshall County's School Board on Monday.

Twenty-five teachers from eight schools, and a psychologist who works out of the system's Central Office, were unanimously approved after their principals, and a supervisor, introduced them to board members and said a few words about each teacher's merits.

The law coming into effect now says that, in the future, teachers must have five years of successful work before being recommended for tenure.

The one-year waiting period to have tenure restored if a teacher leaves Marshall County was waived in the case of Debra Crable, a math teacher at Cornersville School.

Crable had tenure and taught at Cornersville for seven years, but left to try the "greener grass" of Williamson County at the beginning of the 2010 school year, Cornersville principal Bob Edens said. Crable returned to Cornersville in January.

"I came home," Crable said.

Edens said he was delighted to welcome her back and recommend that her tenure be restored without a waiting period.

The only school without teachers recommended for tenure this year was Cornersville Elementary.

Meanwhile, schools director Roy Dukes, assistant director Larry Miller, and some of the supervisors and principals are receiving training this week in the new evaluation process for teachers, which complies with the new tenure law.

More training to be scheduled this summer will be in the "professional educators' collaborative conference act" that has replaced negotiations between a teachers' organization and the board of education.

"We'll have to go for training in rules and processes," Dukes told board members. "Any day we should be getting some more information."

The teachers' current contract expires June 30.

Another new state law requires school systems to allow home-schooled students to participate in extra curricular activities, and board members discussed this with input from Edens.

"It's a sticky situation," Edens said. "You've got to set some parameters and some geographic limits."

Special education supervisor Lisa Ventura agreed with him.

"I caution you: they really want to shop around," she said. By law, special education services have to be offered to all students in the county, even if they go to private school or are home schooled.

Board members wanted to know if there were many home-schooled students who wanted to participate in extracurricular activities, and schools director Roy Dukes replied, "You don't know until they show up."

Edens pointed out that every principal has to understand that home-schooled students must have all their paperwork in order, including proof of insurance, before they set foot on school property to participate in any activities.

Parents will have to plan ahead, especially for sports that have tryouts some months in advance of the playing season.

Edens said it could take up to six weeks to get a home-schooled student's academic records.

Board members decided to limit home-schooled students to participation in activities available at the school nearest their home. In other words, a student resident in Cornersville cannot participate in wrestling at Chapel Hill.

Another new state law will be affecting schools in the near future.

Guidelines for healthier food will be implemented in school cafeterias, perhaps as soon as January 2012. In response to a question from board member Ann Tears, food services supervisor Larissa Delk said that the new state rules would cause a "huge" change, and probably add 30 cents to the price of a plate lunch. She cited a rule against serving potatoes more than once a week as just one of many factors that would cause prices to increase.

Meanwhile, at least for the start of the new school year, lunch prices are not going to change.

"My managers did an excellent job," Delk said. "I try to do everything I can not to raise lunch prices."

Board members unanimously approved the food service budget that Delk presented.

In other business, board members approved:

* A trip to the national Beta Convention in Nashville later this month for nine Marshall County High School students and recent graduates;

* School fundraisers for the upcoming year;

* Lewisburg Paint Store's bid to supply paint to the school system at fixed prices for the next year;

* Payment of $117,942.50 to Siemens on the energy-saving work now being carried out in the school buildings;

* The list of minimum/maximum high school credits for the 2011-2012 school year;

* Acceptance of a $450 grant from Sam's Club to be used to target math performance at Westhills School;

* Changes to the policy on promotion and retention; and,

* The preliminary budget for federally funded school programs here.