Editor’s Note: Polk School District superintendent William Hunter wrote this letter to the Standard Journal in response to a letter published on this page in the Aug. 5 edition.
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Enough certainly is enough! I feel I must respond to these personal attacks by responding to last weeks letter to the editor. I would NEVER operate outside PSD BOE policy. The PSD hiring policy states....“Positions which are filled through lateral reassignments or transfers that do not involve changes in salary shall not be considered vacant within the meaning of this policy and shall not be subject to the announcement, advertisement or any other provision of this policy.” In addition, every certified contract states that Teachers are contracted as “TEACHER” not by location or content area. All are subject to reassignment.
Changes in salary have been interpreted as a salary increase due to a position supplement. It is not uncommon for Teachers to be contracted for additional days for Saturday School, Summer School, or Special Programs.
These have never been considered a salary increase, they are merely additional work days at the same rate of salary. I will propose an amendment to the PSD Hiring Policy that will further clarify misinterpretations. In addition to the hiring policy, before a recommendation can be brought to the Superintendent, three applicants must have been interviewed when possible, fingerprint background checks completed, and references must have been checked. In addition, when applicants are equal, the local applicant must be recommended.
ALL teachers in the system were considered for the positions of Mobile Minds Specialist, and Directed Studies teachers. All high school teachers were considered for Teacher/Curriculum Coordinator Assignments.
When making the above transfers or assignments the teachers were considered for their teacher-leadership in, and enthusiasm for; the online classroom, Professional Learning Communities, comprehensive lesson planning, and teaching that included multiple teaching and assessment strategies. I have always believed in shared leadership.
When I arrived in March 2013, it was readily apparent that the leadership structure had to be changed in the 10 schools. What we were doing was not working as evidenced by low graduation rates, wide gaps in student achievement between subgroups, low End-of-Course test scores, moderate student achievement growth, and only 8 high school students in the district were enrolled in Dual-Enrollment classes.
Many of our students were unable to score high enough on the ACT ASSET College Entrance to qualify for the program. Today we have more than 255 students in Dual Enrollment. Learning is being transformed across our district.
At the core of our improvement plan is our Professional Learning Communities that have replaced the traditional roles of school leadership teams and department heads. Now all teachers meet on Wednesdays for collaboration and all teachers are given the opportunity to be teacher leaders in the instructional program decision-making process.
More than 430 of our teachers attended Mobile Minds University (our instructional technology conference this summer, over 40 PSD teachers were presenters. A total of 52 teachers from across our district worked with Assistant Superintendent, Laurie Atkins, to write lesson plans this summer to be shared with all of our teachers.
I am a proponent of a traditional, standards-based curriculum, schools where students have good attendance and behave themselves, where decisions are made always with our students in mind first. I believe that this generation of students learn very differently than previous generations, and what we are doing for our students in PSD will serve them the rest of their ever-changing lives.
Dr. William A. Hunter, Superintendent of Polk School District