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VOL. 127 | NO. 93 | Friday, May 11, 2012

Teacher Surplusing Would Go In Schools Merger Recommendation

By Bill Dries

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The schools consolidation planning commission is weighing a set of recommendations for teacher hiring, retention and evaluation that would do away with the practice of surplusing teachers.

The recommendations from the group’s human resources committee presented Thursday, May 10, include “not guaranteeing jobs to teachers whose positions have been eliminated.” Under current Memphis City Schools procedures, when a teacher’s position is eliminated at a school or the teacher is not retained at that school, their seniority can allow them to “bump” another teacher at another school if the teachers without a position has more seniority.

The recommendations the planning commission will discuss more and could vote on next week would also redesign teacher and principal pay based on “sustained effectiveness and not on degree attained.”

Teachers who are meeting expectations could voluntarily transfer to another school and there would be more pay for teachers who want to teach in low performing schools or teach subjects that are hard to staff.

Hiring of teachers would be by “mutual consent” of the teacher and his or her principal.

And teachers as well as principals would have weekly “protected time” for each to review student performance data and how they are affecting student performance.

Still to come are recommendations on a specific teacher evaluation model as well as better measures for evaluating teacher effectiveness in subjects that aren’t covered in achievement tests. Those subjects are approximately 60 percent of the subjects taught to students.

The group is to submit its overall plan for a merged school district to the countywide school board and state education officials in August for approval. The merger of the county’s two public school systems begins in August 2013.

The planning commission is scheduled to vote on a first draft of that plan at its June 14 meeting with a series of public hearings and other opportunities for public comment in the weeks following that.

Meanwhile, countywide school board member Martavius Jones, said Thursday he is seeking through a state legislator from Shelby County, a legal opinion from the Tennessee Attorney General on the municipal school districts legislation signed into law this week by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

Only legislators can seek legal opinions from the Attorney General’s office. The legislation Jones is questioning permits referendums this year by suburban towns and cities on forming municipal school districts. The law applies only to counties in which a schools planning commission is in operation and Shelby County is the only county where that is the case. Jones’ indirect inquiry focuses on whether the legislation’s application to only Shelby County is constitutional.

Several of the suburban municipalities are expected to schedule the referendums for the Aug. 2 ballot at meetings of their boards of aldermen this month.

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