Principals interview outside teachers for personnel transitions

Members+of+the+Columbia+Public+Schools+School+Board+discuss+the+changes+to+the+personnel+transitions+in+their+March+19+meeting.

Members of the Columbia Public Schools School Board discuss the changes to the personnel transitions in their March 19 meeting.

Sami Pathan

Members of the Columbia Public Schools School Board discuss the changes to the personnel transitions in their March 19 meeting. Photo by Sami Pathan
As Battle High School’s 2013 opening nears, principals from RBHS, Hickman and Battle have been meeting with teachers interested in working at their schools. The meetings are aimed to smooth the personnel transition process and help select teachers for the restructured system.
“All of the principals had conversations with everyone who put their building as a first choice. So we’re absolutely considering their preferences and desires in our decision making process. It’s where we start the process,” CPS Human Resources Assistant Superintendent Dana Clippard said. “And it’s not the only thing that’ll be considered of course because our obstacle is to meet student needs, but certainly where we can.”
The meetings last 20 to 30 minutes with each teacher, with a common set of questions and topics used for all teachers. If a teacher desired, he could organize follow-up meetings with other leaders from the building to strengthen their bid for a position at the school.
Principal Mark Maus said he has personally met with almost 80 teachers from other schools in the district who want to come to RBHS and has considered letting some teachers start at RBHS next year instead of 2013. Some of the teachers have also met with department chairs to get a clearer understanding of the school.
“So probably close to 80 [meetings] at this point in the process and it’s been a really good way for me to get to know the other people in the district because I’ve only been here a year and half,” Maus said. “I’ve met with “people who not only want to come here in 13-14, but maybe even next year, we brought them out visit with division members as well.”
The process began in January with a survey mailed out to all teachers asking what their first, second and third choices for schools were. Teachers were also able to indicate whether location or subject was their main priority.
“Say I was a teacher, and I really wanted to stay at a building, and I’m willing to teach a variety of courses in order to [stay at my building],” Clippard said. “Whereas another teacher might indicate that they don’t care where they go, they want to teach chemistry. We’re taking things like that into consideration as well in our decision.”
At a Feb. 23 school board meeting, district administrators repeated the need for a data based approach that avoided the reduction of any personnel but improved class sizes and prioritized student needs.
Clippard said though the process is still ongoing, letters notifying teachers of what school they will teach at will be sent out by August, though there is a possibility of mailing the letters before the end of this school year, depending on how soon CPS can decide on school assignments.
RBHS science teacher Barry Still said, because he is used to how RBHS is operated, he put this school as his first option in the survey. He said the untested system at Battle would threaten many teachers.
“At this point there’s just a lot uncertainty,” Still said. “I don’t know anything about the schedule. I don’t know who the department chair is going to be. There are just a lot of unknowns, so there’s just a lot of uneasiness there.”
Still said his motivation to stay at RBHS included the overall environment and his understanding that the system works.
“As a teacher there’s a lot of freedom to try new things,” Still said, “And that’s probably my main reason for wanting to stay here is just the environment here at RBHS and how things are done.”
Throughout the process district administrators stressed one of the most important things was to meet the requirements of CPS’ students and make sure the transition would go smoothly for all involved.
“Our main goal is to meet and exceed the student needs,” Clippard said. “We want to achieve quality learning opportunities and create successful and happy teachers.”
By Sami Pathan