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School board discusses removal of teacher sign-ins

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education may soon toss clocking requirements for salaried teachers.

At Monday’s business meeting, board member Dean Hunter relayed parts of a Thursday discussion he and other board members had with the University of North Carolina’s new dean of education, Fouad And-El-Khalick.

Hunter said there was one point that really stuck with him from the hourlong meeting,

“’We’ve taken the professional out of the profession,’” And-El-Khalick told the board.

It was a comment addressing one reason why many young people are deciding to steer clear of teaching when considering a career. Hunter said the comment got him thinking about what the board and the community can do to restore professionalism to teaching in the district.

“I think sometimes, maybe even unintentionally, we fail to raise and exalt teachers to the level I feel they should be exalted,” he said.

While the board could do something like name a committee of teachers to provide direct input, he said, he feels that there is something more that could be done to let teachers know they were valued and respected.

“I feel kind of a compulsion as a board member that we as a board do our part,” he said.

Hunter said a simple way to do that would be to strike requirements that certified teachers clock in and out, and he made a motion to do so.

“We know they work far more than 40 hours a week,” he said.

Board member Travis Allen seconded the motion but said that the same policy should be extended to cover lateral-entry teachers, who are working toward a certification but may not have received it yet. Hunter agreed to amend his motion to include all salaried teachers.

Allen also requested that a starting date of March 1 be specified. That would allow the system and administration time to adjust and may give a committee of teachers time to weigh in on the issue.

Board lawyer Ken Soo said the board may run into some disciplinary issues down the road — if an administrator wanted to require a chronically tardy employee to sign in or out, for example. Hunter said that the intent of the motion is to allow principals to have that leeway if needed.

“How are they tardy if they don’t sign in? …We have to set up some kind of parameters here,” board member Jean Kennedy said.

Board member Dr. Richard Miller said he was concerned that leaving the disciplinary piece open to the administrator could come back and “bite us all over the body.”

“We’re not going to have a uniform policy,” he said.

Hunter clarified that the board was not removing the expected work start time.

“But we’re just not requiring salaried, professional teachers that time of rigidity to have to sign in and sign out,” he said.

The intention, he said, was to give authority and latitude to school administrators in cases where it’s needed because of chronic tardiness.

“I think we’ve raised enough questions and had enough discussion. I think we’re rushing it just a little bit,” board Vice Chairwoman Susan Cox said.

Cox recommended looking into the issue more and getting input from teachers. Moody said that perhaps a “happy medium” would be to have staff look into it and bring in clarifying language at the Feb. 13 work session.

Hunter rescinded his original motion and made a motion to direct staff to look into the matter. The motion passed in a 5-1 vote, with Allen voting against it. Board member Alisha Byrd was absent.

In an interview after the meeting, Allen said he voted against the motion because he had hoped to approve a no-clocking policy that evening, instead of waiting two more weeks. Board Chairman Josh Wagner said he was “a little disappointed” that the policy was not approved Monday night.

“I understand the questions, but I still believe we could have acted and continued evaluating the results,” he said in an email. “I was prepared to vote in favor of removing the clock-in requirements had the motion not been rescinded.”

In other business, the board:

  • Approved the formation of a capital needs committee.
  • Heard information on a potential renewal of its technology lease with Apple Inc. The lease would cost $14.6 million, with a $3 million down payment provided by current device sell-backs. The system would pay out $11.6 million over three years. About 13,650 iPads would be purchased, with 13,233 going to students and 417 used for overage in case of loss or breakage. About 6,640 Macbooks would be purchased, with 6,321 going to students and 319 being reserved for loss or breakage. The system would also purchase 1,700 Macbooks for teachers and 1,400 iPads for teachers or teacher assistants for a total of 23,390 devices. The board is expected to vote on the proposed three-year lease Feb. 13.
  • Approved a virtual learning pilot program for West Rowan Middle School on bad-weather days. The school has permission to run distance-learning classes on snow days for the rest of the school year.
  • Approved a charter-like restart model for North Rowan Elementary and North Rowan High School.
  • Extended the contract of Ryan Disseler, interim principal at Hurley Elementary, to June 30 and voted unanimously to hire him as the school’s principal.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

 

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