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School board eliminates clocking-in and -out for teachers

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — In an effort to restore a sense of professionalism, certified teachers soon will no longer be required to clock in or out in Rowan County.

The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education made the decision Monday evening at the end of a nearly six-hour meeting, and the motion passed after some heated debate.

Many members of the board had hoped to pass the measure during the Jan. 23 business meeting, but the decision was delayed with requests to hear from principals.

In the two weeks since then, Superintendent Lynn Moody met with principals to find out how the issue is handled at various schools.

“Just by a show of hands, we were all over the place,” she said Monday.

Some schools require teachers to clock in and out, some just require clocking in in the morning and some have no existing policy. Eliminating clocking in and out could also ruffle the feathers with school data managers, who track teacher attendance, she said.

Moody recommended a 30- to 60-day notice to help “clear protocols” and to make sure everyone is on the same page.

The board spent some time in heated debate over the role of nonteachers in the decision. Chief Financial Officer Robin Leslie said the district has other measures to keep track of teacher attendance besides clocking, which is not required for payroll. However, some members of the board expressed frustration at the possibility of further delay.

Board member Dean Hunter reminded the board that the goal of eliminating clocking is to help teachers feel more like professionals and less like factory workers. The fact that the board was spending time talking about the small pieces of the issue instead of looking toward the goal was evidence that “we have micromanaged and turned our teachers into factory workers,” he said.

“I want this to be a beginning of a process of making them feel honored and respected,” he said.

Board Chairman Josh Wagner pointed out that the purpose of the initial delay was to find out if there is a uniform process for clocking.

“What we know very clearly now is there is no process,” he said.

Wagner said school leaders talked to data managers and principals but he hadn’t heard anyone mention teachers.

“I don’t want to see teachers lose out on something just because principals and data managers are upset at a few schools,” he said.

Moody responded that it was incorrect to insinuate that administration did not care about teachers. She said that she oversees the system’s 3,000 employees and it doesn’t make sense to implement something overnight and upset some of them when the same goal could be reached by taking things slowly.

“I’m not arguing with your goal at all,” she said, “but why would you just purposely upset people when you can do it in a smoother fashion?”

“I’m just making the point that when you talk about a principal, an assistant principal or a data manager, I understand that they’re managing things, but the teachers, I think, sometimes stand back and say, ‘Well what about us? We’re the ones that are clocking in and clocking out. Why were we left out of the discussion?’ That was it. I didn’t mean to insult,” Wagner said.

Moody said she would abide by the board’s decision. Board member Susan Cox said she didn’t see a problem with waiting. But board member Travis Allen disagreed, saying that he found the inability to move forward with something “as simple as this” frustrating.

“We’ve already waited two weeks; now we’re going to wait 60 more days?” He said.

Moody said she would inform school personnel now, if the board wants, but she wants them to be aware that some people are not going to be happy.

Hunter also expressed frustration, saying that the idea wasn’t contentious two weeks ago.

“Every minute, in my opinion, that we’re talking about this, we’re defeating the purpose of enhancing the teaching profession,” he said.

Board member  Richard Miller made a motion to implement a no-sign-in policy to be completed by Feb. 28. Board member Jean Kennedy seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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