Transfer of teachers gets review

September 28, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Howard County school officials have agreed to take a closer look at the way they handle the transfers of teachers during the school year.

The study comes after a group of parents whose children attend Bushy Park Elementary School in Glenwood complained to the school board last week about disruptions in a first-grade classroom. The parents said the disruptions resulted from a teacher's transfer to a school that had an unexpectedly high enrollment.

The parents also questioned the wisdom of transferring a teacher from a school they say is in the middle of a fast-growing area.

"I'd like to look at what the options are," said Superintendent Michael E. Hickey. "We can never avoid it completely."

A group of parents whose children attend Swansfield Elementary School in Columbia's Harper's Choice village also met with Dr. Hickey last week in a failed attempt to keep him from transferring a teacher to another school.

Dr. Hickey said that one option, while not ideal, would be to staff schools at the beginning with fewer teachers and to add positions as the need grows.

"My inclination in the future is to err on the side of caution and not put the extra teachers in," Dr. Hickey said. "Then it's the choice a school can make whether they want to add and reorganize their classes or forgo the extra teacher."

The school system uses historical data, housing plans and birthrates to project how many students will enroll in the county's public schools. Preliminary numbers show that school officials were off target by just 45 students for a student population of nearly 36,000. But Dr. Hickey said he expects that more students will enroll soon.

"With individual schools, you still have variations and that's where the problem comes," he said.

Six teachers were transferred last week. Schools that lost a teacher are: Bollman Bridge, Bushy Park, Clemens Crossing and Swansfield elementaries and Dunloggin and Harper's Choice middle schools.

Schools that gained a teacher because of higher than projected enrollments are: Manor Woods, Thunder Hill and Pointers Run elementaries and Mayfield Woods and Mount View middle schools.

Although Clemens Crossing lost a teacher, it will share one for gifted and talented students with Pointers Run Elementary.

Meanwhile, Bushy Park parents say they will push county lawmakers to pass a school system budget that includes money for a larger "teacher pool" -- teaching positions that are reserved for schools with unanticipated larger enrollments.

"I believe there must be a better way, and I guess the better way is to have a bigger teacher pool," said Dan Ennis, PTA president at Bushy Park. "That's a budgetary issue and that's an issue the PTA has to take up."

Bur Mr. Ennis said, "I'm happy they're going to review that process. As parents, what we have to make sure occurs is there is sufficient flexibility in the budget for teacher pool positions."

Parent Meryl Carmel, also from Bushy Park, criticized Dr. Hickey's suggestion to staff schools with fewer teachers as too simplistic. She suggested school officials look at the way other school systems handle teacher transfers.

"I would be curious to know how school systems in other areas are dealing with the problem," she said.

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