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Teacher probation measure shelved

Friday, September 6, 2013

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

A proposal to possibly extend the probationary period for new teachers was pulled for clarification Thursday night by the Henry County School Board.

Henry County Education Association President Anna Maria Ayers, Horsepasture district, raised concerns about the proposal at the board’s regular monthly meeting.

The Professional Staff Probationary Term and Continuing Contract proposal, which was approved by the General Assembly this year, would allow local school boards to extend teacher probationary periods from three years to five years, according to Ayers. Teachers are eligible for their continuing contracts only after the probationary period has been completed.

Ayers said it is unfair for a quality teacher to be asked to wait an additional two years to receive a continuing contract, and that the additional two years of probation should be used only under specific, extraordinary circumstances. Ayers encouraged the board to reject the proposal.

Schools Superintendent Dr. Jared Cotton said that the goal of the proposal is to give principals the option of extending the probationary period, rather than making the extension mandatory. Cotton and several other board members pointed out that in most circumstances, principals will know if they want to offer a teacher a continuing contract well before a three-year probationary period is up.

Cotton said that under the proposal, principals would have the option to offer a continuing contract to a teacher after three years.

Board member Francis Zehr of the Ridgeway District, a retired county teacher, said the proposal as written does not make it completely clear whether the five-year probationary period is optional or mandatory, and the board unanimously decided to pull the proposal for further clarification.

Following a closed session, the school board voted unanimously to extend Cotton’s contract by a year, to June 30, 2016. His contract was to have expired June 30, 2015.

School spokeswoman Melany Stowe said that contract was terminated and the new one was approved. It had no change in salary or other dollar amounts, she added.

In open session, the school board voted to:

• Approve three one-year contracts to Edgenuity, K-12 Virtual and Edmentum to provide online courses for students in the homebound program.

• Approve funds to further process bulk turkey and beef products for school lunches through the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The board also unanimously approved all items on the consent agenda, including:

• Approve minutes from the July 25 school board retreat, the Aug. 6 school tour and the Aug. 8 regular monthly meeting.

• Approve payments of bills.

• Renewed SRA coaching services from JP and Associates. SRA/McGraw Hill offers the Reading Mastery Plus direct instruction reading program for K-6 students. JP and Associates provides monthly individual instructional programs for teachers to help them use the Reading Mastery Plus program.

• Renew technical support for READ 180, a reading intervention program.

• Renew the Accelerated Reader program.

• Renew the iPad insurance program for parents who elect to have their children participate in the school system’s iPad initiative.

• Renew a video on demand delivery system.

The next Henry County School Board meeting will be at 9 a.m. Oct. 3 in the Summerlin Meeting Room at the County Administration Building.


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