By JEROD CLAPP
Students at Greater Clark County Schools will have their school day extended by 10 minutes this school year, but district officials still have to work out how teachers are affected by the move.
On Tuesday night, the district’s board of trustees approved the extension to help with scheduling IMPACT sessions — an intervention model introduced by Superintendent Andrew Melin. However, Melin said issues with teachers’ schedules and their contracted hours still need examination.
“I apologize that it’s not more concrete now but we’ve struggled because of trying to figure out all of the variables and do it in a timeframe when most of our people aren’t working,” Melin said.
John McLaughlin, Greater Clark Education Association’s chairman of the corporate discussion team, told the board that the extension ends the student day at the same time as the teacher day, which leaves no room for teachers to serve as hall, bus or parking lot monitors as school ends.
“While we believe that teachers, as they always have, step up and provide necessary supervision on a voluntary basis,” McLaughlin said. “We don’t believe the safety of our students should be left to the chance of which teacher or teachers might or might not be there on a given day after the contract [day] has ended.”
McLaughlin said the he was also concerned about the hurried nature of the change to the school day’s length and the fact that his association had not heard about it until Monday.
Melin said with so many vital pieces of information coming to parents just three weeks before school begins — including rollout dates for Chromebooks that students will use this year and information on the balanced calendar — he didn’t want to delay the decision and leave parents wondering what time school was going to let out.
Melin said his administrative team was working to find a number of potential solutions, including stipends and other methods, to pay teachers and address the safety issues.
“I’ve asked [the teachers association] to trust me when I say that we’ll make sure we make this work, because if there’s one way for me to get fired very quickly, it’s because I did not provide a safe environment for our kids,” Melin said. “And I will not ever let that happen.”
Board member Tony Hall said since both parties seemed open to solving the issues, they should come up with a more solid plan for teachers and students at the board’s next meeting July 23.
“I just feel like more time is needed,” Hall said. “I believe if we have more discussion and dialogue with our teachers union, that a complete plan could be brought to the board.”
Board member Mark Pavey said in spite of his hesitation on voting on a measure without a complete picture, he thought the issue needed to be addressed as soon as possible.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say this didn’t concern me somewhat,” Pavey said. “Obviously, we’re getting the departure time of students closer to the departure time of teachers and I get that. Something Mr. McLaughlin said that kind of stuck with me is that we need more time... Which tells me everybody feels like this can be worked out.”
The board passed the measure 6-1, with Hall opposing.
AGENT OF RECORD
The board extended its contract with Edward Culpepper “Pepper” Cooper as its agent of record.
Cooper has served in the position for seven years, but just finished his first year with Melin as superintendent. Melin said he thought Cooper’s performance warranted keeping him on board for another year.
His compensation package in the contract is about $65,000. Kevin Satterly, board member, said Cooper’s work had saved the district money and kept money in its nonreverting fund.
The board voted in favor of the measure 6-1 with board member Jerry White opposing.
Cooper is the uncle of Christina Gilkey, board president. She did not abstain from the vote, nor has she since her election in 2008.
In the board’s fifth unannounced personnel agenda change this year, Utica Elementary School Principal Kim Hartlage was promoted as the district’s executive director for elementary education.
Melin said the district has saved about $700,000 by moving positions around in administration, as well as removing some and adding new ones. He said with 12 elementary schools in the district, he thought it was a good idea to have one person help direct all of them.
Hartlage’s contract lasts for two years and sets her salary at $111,640 per year.
Check out an upcoming edition of the News and Tribune and newsandtribune.com for more coverage of the board’s move to keep personnel reports private until they’ve been voted upon.