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Teacher Advisory Committee minutes - 11/15/06

Posted Monday, January 8, 2007

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Bear Creek, NC - Here are the minutes from the Teacher Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting at Chatham Central High School which was held on November 11, 2006.

In attendance: Dr. Ann Hart, Superintendent
Pamela Cathcart, Administrative Assistant for C & I
Molly Jones (for Juanita Bowman, TOY) from Bonlee
Laurie Paige, TOY from Chatham Central
Diane Robinson, TOY from Chatham Middle
Ann Jestes, TOY from Horton
Melinda Brannen, TOY from JS Waters
Matt Fry, TOY from Jordan-Matthews
Mary Catherine McCauley, TOY from North Chatham
Skip Thibault, TOY from Northwood
Terri Fannin, TOY from Perry Harrison
Toby Turnbull (for Nancy Hively, TOY) from Pittsboro Elementary
Trudy Walters, TOY from SAGE
Janet Brady, TOY from Siler City Elementary
Special Guest: John Warf, CCS Network Administrator

Chatham Central’s media center was a welcoming haven on the autumnal Wednesday afternoon of November 15th, 2006. The media specialist had the tables arranged in a “T” shape, allowing easy visual access to all the members of the TAC, and name tents with cornucopias confirmed who was who at the tables. Thank you to Laurie Paige who set up a display of scrumptious snacks that included cheese and crackers, bowls of fruit, trays of cookies and tempting chocolate.

Dr. Hart called the meeting to order promptly at 3:30 pm. She extended a heartfelt thank you to Laurie for the setting up the “buffet”, and to CCHS for hosting the meeting. Dr. Hart thanked the teachers for all the questions you sent prior to the meeting. It gives staff an opportunity to get the answers to you without delay.

Please note we have a special guest today, John Warf from the technology department, who does just about everything concerning technology for us. He volunteered to come today because there are good technology questions and he will be able to provide answers to you.

QUESTION/COMMENT #1: Specific to Horton: Do you know when we’re getting our new server?

JOHN WARF: We are waiting for the server to arrive along with several other things that the schools have purchased with Technology funds. Once the server arrives we hope to be able to setup the server over the Christmas Holiday.

QUESTION/COMMENT #2: A couple of schools are having difficulty with United Streaming--getting it to run, including receiving video footage but not getting audio. Happy Thanksgiving

JOHN WARF: We have been made aware of the problems that one school is having and will be checking into why they are having issues. I will evaluate the problem and checking to see how we can best make United Streaming work for CCS. All schools have access to United Streaming. On Monday, November 20, 2006 media specialists and lead Technology teachers from each school were trained on United Streaming. Personnel getting this early training will be able to demonstrate it to other teachers in their schools. The schools’ computer technicians were also invited to the training so that they will be able to troubleshoot problems at the schools. Per Dr. McCoy, there will also be additional training during the county wide staff development day on January 19,
2007.

QUESTION/COMMENT #3: Will there be an "Intel Teach to the Future" set of workshops this year?

JOHN WARF: Yes there will be a set of workshops. Due to some changes the
workshops will only be done in the spring semester of the school year. It will be open to
K-8 teachers and will be announced with dates after Christmas.

QUESTION/COMMENT #4: Are all on-line classes offered by LEARN NC CEU approved?

DR. HART: Yes!

QUESTION/COMMENT #5: Several websites that are used for downloading sheet
music in music classes are blocked by the CCS? How can I access those sites?
JOHN WARF: The Internet is filtered so if a teacher finds that a website is blocked that
is needed for a class, please email the website to the netadmin@chatham.k12.nc.us.
John will also check into several other issues, including: Discovery videos and why the
sound isn’t always audible, and faster downloads for United Streaming videos. He also
assured everyone he doesn’t answer student emails that request web sites be unblocked;
those requests must come from teachers. He again reminded everyone that the best way
to get information or to advise the tech department of an issue or problem is to enter a
trouble ticket off the CCS web site home page, under teachers and staff: “Report Tech
Problems,” or to send him an email message <mailto:jwarf@chatham.k12.nc.us>.
John says, “Email is great! It allows you to keep a record and me to keep a record and
allows me to get questions to the others so the right information gets back to you.”
No other tech questions were put forth.

DR. HART: Thank you John, for joining us and for all the information and answers to
our questions.

JOHN WARF: Thank you for having me, and I will get answers to the questions about
United Streaming and the others that we’ve talked about. Thanks!

DR. HART: I’m going to start with some questions that were sent; thank you for those you sent ahead.

QUESTION/COMMENT #6: Is there a way to schedule a conference day in the first nine weeks?

DR HART: Yes, but it needs to be brought to the calendar committee. The new
committee will be formed after the holidays. This conversation came up last year and the
committee discussed it a lot. Remember, we lost 5 work days, and we didn’t want the
conference time to be after school on a school day, we wanted it on a work day. Also, by
state statute, we have to have a certain number work days, and there are rules about
where they go. We vote on the calendar, and ultimately the board approves it, so bring
that recommendation to the committee for more discussion, which can help determine
when that day can be put into the calendar.

QUESTION/COMMENT #7: Why was the technology cohort disbanded?

DR. HART: The technology cohort was paid for with a federal grant called Enhancing
Education Through Technology (EETT). The cohort evolved into what is now the Lead
Teacher Model we have at each school, and the grant still pays for the program despite
the change in name. The Lead Teacher Model allows more hands on workshops and staff
development opportunities. The Lead Teacher Model also allows each school to have a
trained contact who is familiar with the types of workshops available, and the different
ways information is presented in other classrooms in the school, giving more accessibility
to ideas in a more concise and timely manner. The goal of the Lead Teacher Model is to
make the position more job imbedded, resulting in less travel and less time out of the
classroom and building. It’s an excellent way to learn new technology and develop the
hands-on aspects of the process.

QUESTION/COMMENT #8: Why were teachers not able to decide if they wanted to
have their supplement, bonus and longevity money in a separate check rather than
lumped in with our monthly paycheck?

DR. HART: You are getting them in separate checks, not lumped in with your paycheck.
When we voted on it last year, the majority voted for separate checks; you also voted
whether to receive the bonus in November or in December and the votes were pretty
strong for December. You’ll get your supplement check in November and the ABC
bonus in December. Longevity pay is paid at your anniversary, which is different for
everyone, and that date can’t be changed. There is a link on the CCS home page under
Teachers and Staff, “Payroll Due Dates” that shows the dates of paydays, supplement and
bonus dispersion: http://www.chatham.k12.nc.us.

Remember too, the supplement will come out on Tuesday, November 21st, and then
December’s paycheck is early, December 20th. This is really nice for the holidays, but
the next paycheck after Christmas is not until January 31st.

In regard to the survey that 10 month employees took concerning averaging their work
days evenly throughout their work “year,” the votes were totaled in favor of getting a
paycheck in June, so 10 month employees will receive a paycheck in June 2007.

QUESTION/COMMENT #9: What is being done about acquiring an adequate number
of buses for growing schools?

PAUL JOYCE, Assistant Superintendent for Auxiliary Services: Last summer, CCS
ordered 2 buses with county money; to date, we have not received them. We will request
funds in next year’s budget for additional buses.

QUESTION/COMMENT #10: The new AIG staff development workshops that include
regular classroom teachers are an excellent idea and opportunity. However, the after
school-hours meetings are sometimes a detriment to teaching effectively. Isn’t there a
more equitable way to hold the meetings during the day?

DR. HART: We received a grant that allows staff development for AIG resource
teachers coupled with regular classroom teachers. The meetings are to be held four times
a year, and those four meetings are from 4pm-7pm. Anytime there are meetings, staff
development or otherwise, it is a difficult situation. The time schedule for these AIG
grant meetings was established before the request for participants was distributed, so
teachers knew in advance the meetings would be after school. We did this in order for
people to be prepared and make an informed decision as to whether or not they wanted to
participate.

The real issue appears to be the apparent unfairness for teachers who don’t participate in
staff development outside the school building during regular school hours. I will remind
you again about the district’s policy about not pulling people out of class for conferences
and meetings. We realize there will be folks who will want and need to participate in
workshops that will take them out of their classrooms, and that is left to the schools to
approve or deny; therefore the district tries not to add to that situation of having a teacher
out of the classroom. Remember, we lost 5 work days, and that really hurt us, because
that’s when we tried to do a lot of this staff development. This reverts back to the
calendar issue: we really need more work days! We try to make the best use of the work
days we have, but sometimes after school meetings are unavoidable.

QUESTION/COMMENT #11: Due to the new Finance software, the county office
cannot convert annual leave days into hours because the School Board has designated a
teacher’s workday at 7.5 hours. If this is correct, teachers should approach the School
Board to change such policy to comply with that of teaching assistants.

DR. HART: That is not correct, so let’s clear up this misunderstanding. The software does convert leave into hours, and it doesn’t have anything to do with School Board policy, or whether your day is 7.5 hours or not. It converts the leave time earned to hours, and if you leave the district or retire, it reverts it back to days. You don’t lose anything; it simply converts the time into hours so it is consistent across the board for salaried and hourly employees.

I think maybe the question is about taking leave. If you’re taking leave, you must still
take it in increments of half or whole days; you can’t take just an hour or two hours of
leave, per county policy. Most professional staff members are teachers, and as a teacher
you can’t take an hour or two of leave because we can’t hire a sub for less than half a day
or whole day.

QUESTION/COMMENT #12: In conjunction with the leave issue, there are personnel
eligible to earn comp time. Who keeps up with tracking comp time?

DR. HART: Most hourly employees can accrue comp time As a teacher you’re a
certified employee; and you work until the job is done, therefore you do not earn comp
time. Hourly employees earn comp time upon approval from their supervisor, there is a
limit to how much employees can earn per pay period, and then the time must be used by
a deadline. The person responsible for tracking any comp time is the school secretary/
bookkeeper, and at the central office it is the payroll department.

QUESTION/COMMENT #13: What is the county doing to support and encourage an increase in supplement pay?

DR. HART: We asked for an increase in supplement pay from the commissioners in our
budget request last year. We will continue to request an increase when we present our
request to the commissioners I make sure they understand all that our teachers do, the
hours you work, and how much teachers contribute to Chatham County. We didn’t get
the increase this year, but I feel we are in a good position for next year’s request. It’s a
good idea for schools to a request a supplement increase, also, because that means it is
priority for everyone, and in turn it becomes a priority for the district.
In addition to the supplements, we offer signing bonuses for EC, math, and science
teachers. Other incentives for new teachers include:
• an interest free, 10 month loan,
• free internet access to employees living within the local access area, and
• local bank account and apartment rental perks.

QUESTION/COMMENT #14: Why can students purchase cookies, ice cream, sweet juices etc. in the cafeteria but staff members aren’t allowed to purchase sweet tea?

DR. HART: All the cafeteria items meet the Winner’s Circle wellness standards for nutrition. Per George Greger-Holt, “There is nothing in the policy that prohibits teacher choices, but we encourage them to be good role models: ‘Staff are encouraged to be role models for students with regards to their nutritional habits, being mindful of nutrition habits when in contact with students’ ". Therefore, the decision for schools to offer or not offer sweet tea is that of the individual school cafeteria managers.


QUESTION/COMMENT #15: I am concerned about the Master’s Cohort Program
which is not taking place. Is there current information about the funding and availability
to our county teachers?

DR. HART: The program is taking place. The past cohort was a Literacy program with
UNC-CH and finished this past year. Our current cohort is with UNC-G and meets at
Siler City Elementary School. This cohort is also literacy focused, and is very successful.
We are also creating a tuition-reimbursement program where CCS pays up to $800.00 per
class, the approximate cost of a course. If you have questions about the Cohort or
Tuition-reimbursement programs, call Dr. Tina Hester, Chief Personnel Officer, at 542-
3626 x272, or email her at hestert@chatham.k12.nc.us.

QUESTION/COMMENT #16: Lower grade teachers who have only a part time assistant
feel it’s unfair that they are being held to the same standard as teachers with a full time
assistant. What kind of plans are there to hire additional assistants to fill in the gaps?

DR. HART: We have monitored the budget each month and have added seven teacher
assistants since school opened. We now have an assistant for each primary classroom.

QUESTION/COMMENT #17: Is there any product that maintenance/extermination can
use to spray classrooms for lice?

DR.HART: I will check, but my initial answer is probably not. After checking with
Maintenance regarding any preventative measures they could take, they referred the issue
to the Nurses. Per Sonya Dunn, “CCS currently has a "No Nit Policy". The policy is in
the Chatham County Schools Health Manual. These (manuals) are located in Principals’
offices, School Nurses’ offices, and (school) libraries. The most preventative measures
include not sharing combs, hats, etc. that would possibly transmit lice. Avoiding pillows
and stuffed animals in the room can also be helpful. Using the vacuum cleaner daily is
very effective in cleaning the rooms. Pesticide sprays are not recommended because
they can be dangerous, especially if they are overused. We have educational materials
that should be sent home with a student with lice. There is also a checklist to help the
parents cover all the bases. Another letter notifies the other parents that a child in the
classroom has lice and encourages them to check their children for the next couple of
weeks. Lice is one of the issues we will be discussing with Dr. Schwankle, our health
director, at an upcoming meeting.”

QUESTION/COMMENT #18: What is the status of opening the POD at Northwood High School?

DR. HART: I share the concern of crowding at NHS. Paul Joyce sent a memo delineating the timelines and procedures that need to be done before the pod is open and operational. It has been much more arduous and time consuming than we anticipated. Note: The POD became operational mid-December.

QUESTION/COMMENT #19: There is a concern that there are only part time nurses for some of the larger schools, especially when smaller schools have a full time nurse.

DR. HART: I will check with the nurses and see what type of schedule adjustment might
be able to be made to help this issue. We try to place the nurses where the greatest need
is, but we will look at the needs again and perhaps re-evaluate. The good news is we are
finally fully staffed! We still don’t have as many nurses as we need, but we do have all 5
of the positions filled.

QUESTION/COMMENT #20: How do the monies earned by the Medicaid participants get distributed? Is it put back into the program or is put into a more general fund?

DR HART: It is put into the general fund.

QUESTION/COMMENT #21: What is the legality of me putting my name a child’s report card that I didn’t teach?

DR. HART: You can be listed as the “teacher of record,” but the student still receives
instruction from another teacher, such as an EC, ESL or a virtual class teacher. Grading
and classifying the students is ultimately the responsibility of the principal.

QUESTION/COMMENT #21: Will school be dismissed at 12:30 or 1:00 for the winter holidays or will a regular dismissal time be observed?

DR. HART: Yes, we will have early dismissal on December 20th and on June 8th at 12:30.

If there are any questions or comments we were unable to get to because of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) exercise taking place in the building, please email them to me and we will get them into the minutes. Meeting dismissed at 4:40 pm.

 
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