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Teacher contract renewal

February 03, 1999

School principals must start making the hard choices about whether to renew teachers' contracts, according to Donna Newcomer-Cole, a teacher personnel supervisor.

"This is the time of year when we do start looking at teachers who are struggling," she told the Washington County Board of Education on Tuesday.

The issue is "difficult" and "delicate," she said, "because it affects people's lives."

Washington County teachers are eligible for tenure after two years. Until then, they are employed with one-year contracts and "contract renewal is automatic," Human Resources Director Phil Ray said.

Ray gave the School Board the "process for consideration of renewal/nonrenewal of non-tenured teachers." In April, the School Board will vote to make those personnel changes, he said, but the initial decision not to renew a teacher's contract is up to the principal.

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Board delays decision on gun ban

The Washington County Board of Education renewed a policy debate about antique guns in schools Tuesday but decided to put off making a final decision until June.

Last summer, Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett implemented an administrative policy banning all guns, even those used for historical instruction, from schools.

On Jan. 19, School Board President Edwin Hayes asked the board to discuss the issue.

Board members asked William McKinley, assistant superintendent of instruction, to seek the attorney general's opinion on Maryland's regulations.

McKinley reported Tuesday the attorney general's office said it is up to each principal whether to allow historical re-enactors to bring guns into schools.

He also polled each principal and found 15 did not favor allowing historical guns in schools. Twenty principals would allow the guns under certain conditions.

Other districts, such as Frederick and Howard counties, permit historical guns with specific restrictions. Carroll County does not, according to McKinley.

Bartlett said there is "no rush" to decide on a policy, since a ban is in effect for the school year. Hayes agreed to bring up the issue again at a June board meeting.

Yom Kippur won't be holiday

The committee making next year's school calendar did not include Yom Kippur as a holiday, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction William McKinley said Tuesday.

The calendar committee recently completed its fourth working draft of the 1999-2000 school year schedule. "We went over each day on this calendar in detail," McKinley said.

"There was talk of Yom Kippur as a system shut down," he noted. "That was looked at very carefully."

Committee members decided the number of Jewish students did not justify making the Jewish day of atonement a holiday. In the past, all Jewish students and teachers have been granted that day off, McKinley said.

He consulted with a rabbi who asked that Jews who take the day off not be penalized on their attendance records. Most principals already abide that request, he said, and all will next year.

"The Jewish community was very helpful and understanding with this problem," he said.

The School Board is expected to vote on next year's calendar on Feb. 16. The board asked McKinley and the calendar committee to continue work and develop the 2000-2001 school schedule by May.

Board to get expenditure summary

From now on, members of the Washington County Board of Education will get a one-page summary of the school system's expenditures instead of a monthly stack of statements.

During a work session Tuesday, board members said it is wasteful for them to receive copies of each check. "I see a lot of duplication of effort," said Paul Bailey, School Board vice president.

Any time there are expenses outside budget outlays, the board is notified. Therefore, Bailey said, a detailed monthly accounting is not necessary. Other board members agreed.

Wilfong suggest cluster idea

Washington County Board of Education member Mary L. Wilfong pitched an idea to her colleagues Tuesday morning that she said will keep each member in touch with a group of schools.

The plan divides the school system into seven "clusters," each with at least one high school and middle school and several elementary schools.

Wilfong proposed every board member "pick a cluster so we could each become more involved with them," she said. "It's just a way of being connected."

Board members Andrew Humphreys and B. Marie Byers were not present at the work session. Board President Edwin Hayes said the full board will vote on the proposal Feb. 16.

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