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School board approves policy changes

By Staff
Kim West
The Franklin County Board of Education approved amending the school system's hiring policy by a 5-0 vote during its monthly board meeting Friday morning.
The board, which tabled the vote on the sensitive issue at the Dec. 16 meeting, approved Superintendent Gary Williams' request to change the policy's wording despite opposition from the Franklin County Teachers Association, Franklin County Educational Support Personnel and Alabama Education Association.
The 26-year-old hiring policy includes specific language directing the board on its objective employment guidelines for instructional, administrative and support personnel.
The re-worded policy amends the opening passage of "The following objective and subjective guidelines are used in selecting new professional personnel …" to "The following objective and subjective guidelines may be used in selecting new professional personnel …"
The other change applies to the passage on hiring administrative personnel, which states that guidelines "shall apply to selection of administrative personnel," and those guidelines include the number of years of administrative experience in Franklin County and any other district and the classification of school in which any experience was attained. The policy is now worded as "may apply to selection of administrative personnel."
"For the past two or three months, I've been toying with (requesting the changes) and emotions have been running high, but not because I'm not sure it should be changed," Williams said. "I steadfastly believe it should be changed, but from what I've heard, there has been a lot of personal and political attacks behind our backs about this (issue).
"There are things needing our time that are more important than fighting over this policy. I don't want to do anything against our employees, but we need to get out of this personal and political thing that has been going on for the past 10 or 12 years."
The board listened to a presentation at last month's board meeting from Jacqueline Parsons, president of the FCTA, while Ann McMahan, FCESP president, spoke Friday morning on behalf of the county's support personnel. The teacher's association, which has voting representatives at each school for every 10 teachers, voted 10-3 against changing the policy, while members of the support personnel group opposed the changes 22-2.
"This is nothing against the school board, but we felt this would be a detriment to the county (school system)," said McMahan as she addressed the board members before they voted on the issue. "I would like for you to keep in mind that both (county personnel) groups are against changing the wording of this policy."
Williams said he didn't want to oppose any of the county's personnel groups, but he still believed the policy needed to be changed.
"We're looking at the hardest (economic) times for education in the past 45 years, and while I respect Mrs. Parsons, Mrs. McMahan and their respective groups, I will stand against the politics and personal and political reasons (for some of the opposition) and stand with my decision," Williams said.
The board recognized Belgreen High School, Phil Campbell High School and Vina High School, which were named bronze-level schools by U.S. News &World Report magazine in its Dec. 15-22 issue.
More than 21,000 schools in the U.S. were considered, and only 1,300 were selected to receive gold, silver or bronze awards. Out of 388 high schools in Alabama, 54 earned bronze status, and only four were awarded silver or gold medals.
Bronze medal schools are schools that do not offer advanced placement or international baccalaureate curriculum or do not achieve a college readiness index of at least 20, but they successfully meet the other two key performance indicator criteria in the areas of poverty-adjusted performance and disadvantaged students performance gap.
In other business, the board: