Carroll panel to study teacher concerns

Planning, training time, curriculum among issues

October 11, 2002|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

A task force seeking answers to the questions raised by teachers who launched work-to-contract job actions at several Carroll schools likely will explore issues such as the use of "in-service" planning days and the effect curriculum changes have on instruction.

"The intent is not to be an ongoing committee but a short-term task force that can identify those areas of concern, which we can then direct to the appropriate staff to work on with teachers," said Stephen Guthrie, assistant superintendent of administration for the school system.

"They're going to try to narrow those issues into workable issues."

Other topics likely to be addressed include the number of standardized tests teachers are required to administer and staffing levels for secretaries and other support personnel, union leaders said Wednesday.

In the job actions, teachers have worked more closely to the terms of their contract, refusing before- and after-school activities for which they are not paid.

Guthrie said that Gregory Bricca, the schools' assessment and accountability coordinator, will co-chair the committee with Michele Becker, a teacher at Linton Springs Elementary, where the work-to-contract protest began.

Joining them will be nine teachers, three each from county elementary, middle and high schools. Three principals will also be on the committee.

The first meeting is scheduled for Monday.

The goal is to put together a master list of issues and recommendations for the Carroll County Education Association's Representative Assembly and the school board by Oct. 23.

"We need a consolidated list rather than 40 different lists," said schools Superintendent Charles I. Ecker.

The only specific concerns forwarded to the school board are contained in a letter from teachers at Linton Springs Elementary to the PTA.

Teachers there drafted a list of 20 points they want addressed, among them shortages of planning time, support staff and equipment.

Some points that teachers might bring to the table include how to make the best use of planning days. Bricca said that the committee might look at whether training takes up too much time.

Another issue that might be discussed is curriculum development and implementation. Bricca said he is aware that some teachers complain that the curriculum is in constant flux and that they might appreciate more stability.

Representing elementary schools on the task force are Susan Adami at Hampstead, Jamie Hitchner at Taneytown and Barry Potts at Manchester. Middle school members are Jessica Bair at Oklahoma Road, Betty Kadlubowski at East Middle and Dick Thompson at West Middle.

High school teachers on the committee will be Joe Eberhart from Winters Mill, Carroll Richardson from Westminster and Tony Roman from North Carroll.

Three principals on the task force will be Debbie Bunker at Linton Springs, Tom Hill at Shiloh Middle and John Seaman at Westminster High.

Union officials announced the formation of the committee at the Board of Education meeting Wednesday.

"It's an important step in addressing the concerns of teachers," said teachers union President Cindy Wheeler.

She told the school board the results of a union vote to extend teacher work-to-contract job actions, occurring in at least 12 schools, to a countywide protest.

To move forward the 1,450-member union required approval of three-quarters of the teachers but fell short, with only 60 percent supporting the measure.

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