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Teachers may be required to apply for their own jobs

February 04, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Similar to Eastern Elementary School's teacher restructuring more than a year ago, teachers at Bester Elementary School and math and English teachers at South Hagerstown High School will need to reapply to work at those schools in an effort to improve students' academic performances, Washington County Public Schools officials said Thursday.

The changes, which school system administrators are calling "School Improvement Initiatives," would take effect for the next school year, according to a Washington County Public Schools news release.

Bester Elementary and Boonsboro Middle School are on alert status for not meeting adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind last school year, said Patricia Abernethy, deputy superintendent for instruction.


South High was on alert status two years ago and met a lower standard of adequate yearly progress for reading last year, school system officials said.

The concern at Boonsboro Middle is reading progress among students with disabilities, Abernethy said. That school received additional assistance, so school staff and administrators are optimistic the school will make adequate yearly progress this year, she said.

Bester special education students making math progress is a specific concern, Principal Joanne Hilton said. The school did not make adequate yearly progress in math last school year, according to the news release.

Also, the overall student Maryland School Assessment (MSA) scores at Bester were below the county average, Abernethy said.

If Bester doesn't make adequate yearly progress this school year, a state sanction would give parents the option of sending their students to another designated school next school year, Abernethy said. The school system would have to pay for busing to that school, she said.

If a school repeatedly doesn't meet federal requirements, the state eventually can take it over, Abernethy said.

South High students' scores for MSA and Maryland High School Assessments (HSA) have been below the county average, said Boyd Michael III, executive director for secondary education.

Passing the HSA will become a graduation requirement starting with next year's freshmen, officials said.

Having teachers reapply for these positions is a proactive move to improve performances at both schools and prevent state sanctions at Bester, Abernethy said.

Doing that at Eastern paid off with improved MSA results, Abernethy said.

Interim Director of Human Resources Linda Barkdoll said there will be "no firing going on whatsoever." Teachers can reapply to those schools or request transfers to different schools, she said.

"This process will not put anybody out on the street in terms of teachers," Barkdoll said. If they don't reapply, they will be considered for other teaching positions, she said.

The current plan is to add 30 minutes to the school day for the affected teaching positions at both schools and a month will be added for the affected South High teaching positions, so teachers must reapply for those jobs, Barkdoll said.

The extra time would be used for training and giving students extra help, Michael said.

They will receive extra pay for the extra time, Barkdoll said. Details are still being worked out, but Barkdoll said it could be similar to the Eastern teachers being paid an extra $5,000 a year for the extra 30 minutes a day.

Of the 41 teaching positions filled at Eastern after its restructuring for the 2003-04 school year, 19 former Eastern teachers were rehired there, a school system official said at the time.

Barkdoll said she has no idea how much turnover would be expected with Bester and South High.

Barkdoll said Bester has approximately 45 teachers. She did not know the number of paraprofessionals, formerly known as instructional assistants, who also would need to reapply.

There are approximately 25 math and English teachers at South, Barkdoll said.

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