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School board is asked to back Va. contract laws

Friday, December 7, 2012

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Representatives of the Henry County Education Association asked the county school board Thursday night to pass a resolution supporting “continuing contract” laws and opposing any change that would remove continuing contract protections from Virginia public school teachers.

Dorothy Carter, HCEA president, and Josh Bocock, HCEA vice president of government relations, made the presentation to the board.

In 1968, the Virginia General Assembly adopted continuing contract laws which established uniform employment practices, delineated causes for teacher dismissal and provided employment for security for teachers after a three-year probationary period, according to information Carter presented.

Carter said HB 576 previously passed the House, but the Senate bill (S.B. 438) failed to pass the Senate. It was referred to committee to be considered again in 2013.

Carter said the bill would have:

• Increased the probationary period for new teachers from three years to five years.

• Done away with continuing contract for all new hires and those who were not “grandfathered” in.

• Denied them “due process” provisions currently embodied in continuing contract. Teachers would not have had the right to request a hearing before a fact-finding panel or the school board. There would be no requirement for school officials to show that termination was not “arbitrary, capricious, or without substantial evidence.”

• Made it possible for a veteran teacher to be let go just because the school division wanted to hire a younger, inexpensive teacher.

Carter said the bill was introduced by the lobbyist of the Virginia School Boards Association and supported by the Virginia Association of Superintendents. The Virginia Education Association and the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals opposed it, she said.

Bocock said, “Opponents of continuing contract status use misleading terms like ‘tenure’ and ‘lifetime jobs’ to describe what Virginia teachers currently have. I believe no teacher would have the audacity to suggest that if they are not being effective at their job, then they should continue to hold it. Virginia teachers do not receive tenure; we can be dismissed if we are not performing as a teacher should. What continuing contract ensures is that teachers who are dismissed receive a fair hearing and are not fired for arbitrary reasons.”

School board Chairman Kathy Rogers of the Collinsville District said the board will consider the request.

In other business at the meeting at Magna Vista High School, the board:

• Recognized students whose artworks were selected for the central office art exhibit: Haley Ferguson, Bassett High; Tim Greigg, Magna Vista High; Lideah Shivley, Fieldale-Collinsville Middle; Aleisha Preston, Laurel Park Middle; Crystal Santacruz-Sanchez, Axton Elementary; Tia Bye, Campbell Court Elementary; Blake Fulcher, Carver Elementary; Jackson Evans, Collinsville Primary; Anna Morton, Drewry Mason Elementary; Colin Jessee, John Redd Smith Elementary; Edgar Alvarado Rodriguez, Mount Olivet Elementary; Kolby Quigg, Rich Acres Elementary; Steven Whorley, Sanville Elementary; Michael Martin, Stanleytown Elementary.

The students’ works were put on display Thursday in the school board office and will be up for six months, said Melany Stowe, school system spokeswoman.

In addition, artwork by Trey Jarrell, a 10th-grader at Bassett High, was selected for the cover of the 2013-14 High School Program of Studies.

• Accepted the first reading of policy updates. The proposed revisions reflect efforts to bring policies into compliance with new and existing laws and regulations. In addition, a few policies are revised for editorial reasons or to correct technical errors.

• Approved an overnight/out-of-state field trip.

• Approved bills for payment.

• Approved an additional appropriation of $135,000.

Irisburg Elementary School recently was sold by the county. The State Department of Education required that the proceeds be used for capital projects. The proceeds will be used to install air conditioning in the Laurel Park Middle School cafeteria at a cost of about $42,000, and to upgrade lighting controls in the Magna Vista High School auditorium at a cost of about $93,000.

• Awarded a contract for vehicular fuel to Davenport Energy of Martinsville, which bid $3.2969 per gallon for the Ultra Lo Sulfur Diesel and $3.153 per gallon for the preferred conventional regular unleaded. Henry County Public Schools uses about 290,000 gallons of ultra-low sulfur diesel and 17,000 gallons of 87 octane unleaded gasoline fuel for its vehicles each year. Based on estimated use and the Oct. 1, 2012, prices, the annual cost of this contract is estimated to be $950,000.

• Accepted the first reading of the 2013-2014 High School Program of Studies. Final approval is slated for Jan. 3.

The program of studies outlines the course descriptions and general policies about the high school program of instruction. Printing cost of the document is estimated to be $5,400, including mailing a copy to each student’s home.

• Accepted the first reading of the 2013-2014 Middle School Program of Studies. Final approval is slated for Jan. 3. The program of studies outlines the course descriptions and general policies about the middle school program of instruction. Printing cost of the document is estimated to be $3,800, including mailing a copy to each student’s home.

• Received an energy and facilities report.

Roofing projects for Mount Olivet Elementary and Rich Acres Elementary are complete, and one at Stanleytown Elementary is substantially complete (waiting on roofing manufacturer inspection),

Magna Vista High School ceiling and lighting renovations are complete.

Paving at the lower parking lot at Magna Vista High School has begun, and paving at Bassett High School will follow depending on weather.

The school division’s energy conservation program, in its third year, had these results:

— For the period Feb. 1, 2012, through Nov. 1, 2012: reduced energy, MMBTU, 12,650; avoided cost, $331,128; percent reduction, 23.26; greenhouse gas reduction, metric tons of carbon dioxide, 2,193; equivalent reduction in cars for one year, 394.

— For the cumulative period Feb. 1, 2010, through Aug. 1, 2012: reduced energy, MMBTU, 53,418; avoided cost, $1,238,668; percent reduction, 22.40; greenhouse gas reduction, metric tons of carbon dioxide, 7,826; equivalent reduction in cars for one year, 1,405.

• Schools Superintendent Dr. Jared Cotton said he continues to be concerned about increasing requirements/demands being placed on school districts without additional funding being provided.

• Received or heard reports on attendance, membership and enrollment; discipline summary; fundraisers approved by the superintendent; receipts and expenditures.

• Met in closed session to discuss appointments and separations of personnel, student matters and legal matters.

The meeting was at Magna Vista High School.


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