Teacher transfer system updated Some principals aren't happy with phone job bank

March 14, 1997|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

The cumbersome and antiquated system by which Anne Arundel County teachers switch schools is going modern -- which makes teachers happy but maybe not principals.

Starting Monday, teachers who want to transfer to another school can call a job bank, hear an up-to-date tape of job postings, then apply directly to the principal of that school. Until now, teachers who wanted to make a move -- about 1,000 in the county every year -- had to guess or gather intelligence at midyear about where openings might exist, write up a wish list based on that information, then forward their list to the central personnel office for more processing.

The job bank tape has been in the works since September, but delays have pushed back the changeover from the old system since March 1. Plans were in such flux that teacher union representatives and principals got just two days' notice of an after-hours meeting Wed-nes-day when the new transfer system was to be explained.

The telephone job bank will be tested through August 1998. Only teachers have access to it, and it will be updated weekly.

John Kurpjuweit, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, praised the new system, for which the union fought hard over several years. "It is good for the whole school system," he said. He noted that mountains of paperwork in the central personnel office will disappear.

In contrast, principals suspect the teacher transfer change violates their contract and complain that it starts the transfer process too late in the school year.

Though three principals sat on the committee that devised the new system, none was appointed by the Association of Educational Leaders, the principals' union.

AEL's contract states that a group examining change in working conditions must have AEL-appointed representatives.

"We maintain it is a working condition," said Donald Smith, administrator of the union.

Human resources director David Lombardo defended the makeup of the committee, which stemmed from a teachers' union negotiation impasse two years ago.

"We wouldn't have approved it if we thought it violated the contract," Lombardo said.

Starting the new system in mid-March is a problem, Smith contended.

"We are so far behind. It could be the greatest system in the world, but the timing is bad," he said.

Few listings are likely to be on the tape come Monday, said personnel specialist Victoria McCormick, who worked on the committee. Teachers only have to give 30 days notice to quit -- so the crunch for principals is likely to begin in May.

The old system gave principals notice if a teacher wanted to transfer -- generally good for principals, awkward sometimes for teachers -- a warning that does not exist under the new plan.

Under the old system teachers had from New Year's Day until March 1 to file with their principals a "declaration of intent" to transfer. That document was forwarded to the personnel office. Teachers could pick three schools or one geographic area, and the personnel office sent the information to principals, some of whom started interviewing in February.

This year, interviews will not begin until the end of March at the earliest. That is just before the final push for the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) tests in May and amid preparations for the end of the school year, Smith said.

The change cost $1,200, all in programming interactive telephone line, Lombardo said.

The new system does little for the problems created by late vacancies. After July 15, a vacant job -- whether a plum position or a dud -- will not be posted.

Pub Date: 3/14/97

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