BOE votes to align personnel policy with Students First Act
by Daniel Gaddy
Dec 07, 2011 | 1003 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In response to a new Alabama law that changes policies for firing teachers, the Walker County Board of Education on Tuesday passed a resolution calling for the local district’s policy to be stripped down and rebuilt over the coming months.

During the meeting, Superintendent Jason Adkins pulled out two binders that, when stacked together, stood about 10 inches tall.

“These are our current policies,” he told the crowd.

Adkins held out a quarter-inch-thick booklet, which covers the policies enacted by the law, and said it will serve as the basic guidelines for teachers and the local board will then add on to it.

He said the board will discuss any additional local policies with education representatives over the next few months. He said board members hope to vote on a final handbook during their April 12 meeting.

“So we’re talking about a three- to four-month process,” he said.

The new policy is in response to the Students First Act of 2011. This law defines specific reasons for firing teachers that have made tenure — those who have worked three consecutive years in the Alabama public education system.

However, it places the decision-making power in the hands of teachers’ local board of education rather than outside arbitrators.

Proponents of the act say it provides for fairness and due process to teachers while allowing school district’s to make use of ever-decreasing funds. Opponents of the measure, however, say it slashes at the rights of teachers by providing education officials with ample loopholes to terminate employees unjustly.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the school board voted to reject bids for modifications to the Oakman Elementary/Middle School gymnasium. Adkins and the board members agreed the prices quoted in all the bids — most of them more the $500,000 — were too high for the project.

“We’re going to do what we said we were going to do, but we’re not going to waste your money doing it,” Adkins told the crowd at the meeting.

The Walker County Board of Education’s next meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 12 in the Carl Elliott Building in Jasper.