While local teachers are trying to figure out the new legislation, Macon County’s Board of Education is pondering three possible methods to take on identifying the 25 percent of teachers in the district who will receive a contract offer.
North Carolina teachers may no longer be eligible for tenure under the legislation changes, but 25 percent of teachers in districts across the state will be identified as “top performing” and be offered four-year contracts. The General Assembly directed local districts to develop a set of criteria to name the top 25 percent of teachers in the district. Although the state’s directive was approved, the criteria to be used to identify the 25 percent was left up to local school systems, and has been something that Macon County officials have been struggling with.
The district sought input from teachers on what criteria needed to be used for identifying the top employees. According to Moore and Macon County School System attorney John Henning Jr., while the opinions were needed and helpful for the process, the board had to be careful not to violate any laws when developing the criteria. One of the suggestions offered by teachers was to take teachers who would be eligible for tenure if the law had not been changed, and then offer those employees the four-year contract.
Board member Gary Shields seemed to favor this option, as he said by offering tenure eligible teachers the contract, the district would be signing experienced educators that may otherwise retire an extended contract, ensuring they stay within the school system.
While the board liked the idea of retaining experienced educators, Moore and Henning cautioned that it could be perceived as identifying the 25 percent as a targeted age and it could cause legal problems down the road. “The thought is that the district is offering a specific category of employee (age / service related) an opportunity that others employees would not be offered; we feel that this is arbitrary,” said Moore.
On Tuesday night, Moore presented the board with three possible options to consider to select which teachers should receive the four-year contracts. Option one selects the 25 percent chosen by specific school site through a lottery, with itinerant teachers placed in a separate category. Teacher of the Year data over the three previous years would be used to determine which employees should be offered contracts prior to the lottery.
Option two outlines that the 25 percent be chosen district-wide through a lottery; past Teacher of the Year data over the previous three years to be used to determine which teachers are offered contracts prior to the lottery.
The third option places all eligible teachers in the district in a lottery and randomly draws 25 percent of teachers.
The first two options ensure that each school site will have a teacher represented in the 25 percent, but the third option would make the drawing completely random with no promise that a top performing teacher will be identified at each school site.
Macon County Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin told board members that he would like for the board to consider all three options over the next month in order to discuss the options further in February. “The thought is that the district should have a procedure in place at the conclusion of the March Board of Education meeting,” said Moore.
Board members continued to show apprehension surrounding the decision and expressed their concern in remaining as fair as possible when deciding the criteria.