Teachers at four low-performing elementary schools to have longer school year in 2013-14

  • Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 7:33 a.m., Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 1:17 p.m.

Teachers at four of Charleston County’s academically worst schools will be asked to reapply for their jobs and commit to working about a month more than the rest of the district’s teachers in 2013-14.

The schools are: Burns Elementary, North Charleston Elementary, Memminger Elementary and Sanders-Clyde School.

School Superintendent Nancy McGinley proposed the idea as a way to stimulate an intense culture change at the schools that need it most.

“We’re not just talking about adding one teacher here or there,” she said. “We’re talking about a school that has to adopt a whole new level of excellence.”

The school board, with the exception of member Elizabeth Moffly, signed off on the concept last week, but the district has refused to release the names of the involved schools since then. Two school board members, Chris Collins and Elizabeth Moffly, confirmed which schools would be affected.

District leaders said the change affects personnel and contracts, which permitted the issue to be discussed in executive session and allowed the district not to identify the four schools.

Jay Bender, attorney for the state Press Association, said the district has broken the law. The board wasn’t using the closed-door meeting to negotiate sensitive information relative to proposed contracts, and this issue seemed to be more of a budget matter than personnel one, Bender said.

“They’re trying to keep it a secret,” he said. “A better way would’ve been to announce this is the project and be honest about it, but that doesn’t seem to be the way school boards operate.”

The district decided to tell principals of the four schools today about the plans for 2013-14, and they were supposed to meet with teachers soon to tell them.

The amount teachers are paid for the additional work days will vary depending on their salaries, and continuing contract teachers who aren’t interested in the extended school year are guaranteed jobs elsewhere in the district.

Teachers will be asked to commit to a 210-day contract rather than the traditional 190-day contract. Teachers would return to school about two weeks earlier than their peers for intense training and team-building sessions, and they would participate in 10 additional mandatory training sessions throughout the year.

“It’s having a team approach to creating an excellent school,” McGinley said. “You have to be a teacher who wants to be part of this, and then give them the tools and the training.”

Officials plan to hire teachers with track records of success, and the expectation will be that students make more than the typical amount of progress during the school year.


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