Asheville City Schools drafts implementation plan for controversial new state contract rules

A special Asheville City Schools advisory council has drafted recommendations on how to implement a contentious new state law allowing school systems to offer one-time, four-year contracts and salary bonuses to top-25 percent performers.

In a Feb. 20 email to city school teachers, Libby Kyles, a member of the advisory council, outlines what they will recommend to the Asheville City School Board when it meets Feb. 24.

The state law has drawn heated controversy for eliminating tenure-type protections. In response, North Carolina’s Education Association has asked teachers to protest the rules by refusing to sign employment contracts.

According to Kyles’ email, the local council wants to make it “extremely clear to the public that the 25 percent getting contracts are not necessarily the ‘top’ 25 percent … that people are opting out for moral, ethical, personal, political, professional, etc reasons.”

The local advisory council is recommending that after narrowing down the pool of teachers qualified to receive the four-year contracts, the school system conduct a lottery to determine who will get offers.

Read the details of the proposal as outlined by Kyles in her Feb. 20 email to teachers:

Good morning!  The Superintendent’s Advisory Council met yesterday and we have a plan for the “25%” legislation.  You will be getting an official email from Central Office, but here are the basics.  The term “teachers” will include classroom teachers, counselors, school psychologists and social workers, speech pathologists, media coordinators and ITFs, and instructional coaches.  (Note:  This legislation does not include classified personnel, but I am sending this to AHS STAFF to keep everyone in the loop on what is, for some, a very political issue.)
 
1. You must have been employed by ACS for at least 3 years.  There are 241 teachers who meet this criteria.  ACS must offer 4 year contracts to 25% of those teachers, so 60 teachers will be offered a contract.

2. You will be given the opportunity to opt-out of being in “the pool”.  You will have to sign a form and return to CO by a certain date.

3. Remaining teachers will be checked for “Proficiency.”  You must have been marked “proficient” or higher on all standards on which you were evaluated for the past 3 years.  If you were not, then your name will be removed from the pool. 

4. Remaining teachers will be checked for “Disciplinary Actions.”  If you received in the last 3 years or this year:   a suspension with pay, a disciplinary suspension without pay, a demotion, a monitored or directed professional growth plan, or a mandatory improvement plan, then your name will be removed from the pool. (Note that written reprimands or oral warnings/reprimands do not count.)

5. Remaining teachers are the final pool.  They will be divided by school and 25% of teachers at each school will be randomly chosen by lottery to be offered a contract.  They can accept or decline.  Note that if a teacher declines, that does NOT mean someone else has a chance.  We are only offering 60 contracts, so if someone declines that contract is gone.     

6. OK … here’s the math part.  We are rounding down with the 25% at each school.  Remaining teachers will be put into a district lottery if needed to reach the 60 contracts.  Example:  Let’s say that a school has 14 teachers in the pool after opt-outs and disqualifiers.  25% of 14 teachers is 3.5 teachers.  We can’t offer half a contract, so at that school 3 people would receive contract offers.  When we do that across the district we may have some “leftover” contracts to offer in order to reach the 60 total contracts.  So everyone who was in their school pool but not offered a contract would be put into a single district pool … and remaining contracts would be offered by lottery from that pool.

7. Board has to approve the list of teachers to be offered contracts.  They have the right to modify the list per the legislation.
 
Timeline: 

• The plan will be presented to the Board at their work session on Monday, Feb 24.

• They will vote to (hopefully) approve at the March 3 Board Meeting.

• “Opt out” form will be delivered to qualifying teachers.  It will have a specified return date … sometime in early spring.

• CO will then have to check remaining teachers for Proficiency and for Disciplinary Actions.

• Lottery will occur.

• Superintendent will present list of teachers to be offered a contract at the June 2 Board meeting.  Board can approve or they have the right to modify the list.

• Contracts will then be offered to the approved teachers.

• Teacher must sign and return contract by June 30 to accept.
 
Statement:

It was very important to the committee that it be extremely clear to the public that the 25% getting contracts are not necessarily the “top” 25% … that people are opting out for moral, ethical, personal, political, professional, etc reasons.  We spent a lot of hours on this and ended up with a lottery because there was no other fair way to do it … we wanted that to be expressed as well.  And we wanted it known that this is really a demoralizing piece of legislation.  So a Statement of Intent that includes all this was approved by the committee.  You will get that statement in the email from Central Office that further details the plan.  This statement will also be public record and released to the press.
 
So … I don’t know exactly when the email from Central Office is coming, but it should be soon.  It will provide specific details in more formal language and will include links to the actual legislation if you want further info.  But I want everyone to have the basics at least now that we know them!

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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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