In the monthly meeting of the Ashe County Schools Board of Education, officials discussed the new tenure policy established by the state’s General Assembly this summer.
The act, which plans to eliminate teacher tenure by 2018, will also provide 25 percent of teachers who have worked for three years a four-year contract and a $5,000 pay raise.
Other teachers will receive a one-year contract.
“What we are wanting to do is move slow on this and be very cautious on it,” said Superintendent Dr. Todd Holden. “It is a piece of legislation I feel can be divisive for our teachers.”
The selected teachers will be evaluated on proficiency by the state. The bill was passed in July.
“I don’t think (the legislation) was something that passed with the good intent of our teachers,” Holden said.
Holden said the state was funding $10 million for the program the first year and long-term the funds will increase, but there was no funding for it now.
“We are going to look, listen and learn on this as well,” he said. “There has been so many interpretations of it… we want to wait and see and get feedback.”
New class options
The board took into consideration removing one of Ashe County Middle School’s two business education classes and replacing it with one of four new options.
“We would like to do a survey to see what (middle school students) would like to have offered in upcoming years,” said Joallen Lowder, public information officer for Ashe County Schools.
Lowder said in the meeting that children had said they would like other options besides a computer class.
Beckworth questioned if this would require the school hiring a new teacher.
“We would be replacing a position,” Lowder said. “We would bring in an interim for the remainder of the school year.”
The county would still offer one business education course at the middle school in the coming years. Options students can choose from are: exploring agricultural science, biotechnology in agriculture, exploring health science and exploring life skills.
“(With) exploring agricultural science and exploring biotechnology in agriculture, the teacher has to have a degree in agriculture,” Lowder said.
With health sciences, the teacher would also need to have a nursing degree.
“This is going to expand the options for our middle schoolers,” Holden said.
Beckworth said that he thought students will like the options presented in the survey.
The board unanimously passed a resolution to allow a continuation of the survey.
Weapons policy clarified
Following questions the board had in the previous meeting about the new gun laws, Holden clarified to two specific discussions.
In October’s meeting, board member Terry Williams asked if the law included rifles and shotguns on campus.
“(The law) does not include long rifles, it does not include shotguns, it’s only for concealed handguns,” Holden said. “They have to be concealed or locked up in the vehicle.”
Beckworth followed up on an earlier question on if parents would be required to report that there are guns in their vehicles.
“I did ask that question (to the sheriff) and (parents) do not have to let us know, with this new legislation,” Holden said. “That can change in the short session, but I doubt it.”
In other action taken by the Board:
• The board approved a request from the Ashe County High School Husky Choir to take trips the Music City Classic Music festival in Nashville, Tenn. and the Music in the Parks Music Festival at Dollywood, Tenn.
• The board selected board member Williams as the member to serve on the 2014-15 school calendar committee.
• The board approved personnel recommendations.
• In attendance were: Superintendent Dr. Todd Holden, Polly Jones, Dr. Lee Beckworth, Terry Williams, vice chairman C.B. Jones and chairman Charles King. The next meeting will take place Monday, Dec. 2.