The Cumberland County Board of Education approved policy changes during its January meeting that will standardize the terminology used to refer to licensed teaching personnel and non-certified school staff.

“There were 13 different terms used to refer to certified personnel,” Richard Janeway, 2nd District representative, told the board. “We’re trying to get some uniformity and consistency of what we are classifying each group of personnel. This will take it from 13 terms down to two terms.”

In the policies, personnel who are required to have teacher certification for their jobs will be referred to as professional staff or certified personnel. Those who are not required to hold teacher certification will be classified as non-certified personnel.

Policies changed on first reading are:

•Suspension/Dismissal of Classified Employees — replacing classified employee with support staff employee; 

•Staff Positions — replacing licensed personnel with certified personnel and non-licensed employee with non-certified employee;

•Assignment/Transfer — replacing licensed personnel with certified personnel and replacing non-licensed personnel with non-certified personnel;

•Professional Development Opportunities — replacing classified personnel with support personnel;

•Evaluation — replacing licensed teaching personnel with certified personnel, replacing non-licensed personnel with certified personnel and replacing support personnel with non-certified personnel;

•Application and Employment — removing “regular” professional and support staff positions; and,

•Recruitment of employees — replacing licensed personnel with certified personnel.

Dan Schlafer, 9th District representative, questioned the use of non-certified personnel. 

“I have a concern about the label non-certified,” Schlafer said, adding he has referred to staff as professionals and paraprofessionals. 

“I think that means a great deal for folks who are support staff who we can’t do without to have a term other than non-certified apply to them,” Schlafer said.

Travis Isaacson, chief financial officer, explained Tennessee law referred to non-certified teaching assistants as paraprofessionals. There was concern that using the term for all non-certified employees would not be acceptable because Tennessee law uses it for only one specific group of employees.

Don Hassler, 5th District representative, said, “We definitely need some common language. I vote yes. We’re moving in the right direction.”

The policy changes were approved on first reading with all board members voting in favor. Jim Blalock, 8th District representative, was not present.

Also approved were several policy changes related to how courses taken for academic credit outside of the school system will apply when calculating class ranking at graduation. The BOE approved changes that would include these alternative credit options on final transcripts, but the grades will not be used to calculate class ranking for top ten students or the valedictorian or salutatorian. 

Policies approved on first reading were college level courses, alternative credit options and class ranking.

Policy changes approved on second and final reading were:

•Emergency Preparedness Plan — specifying school safety plans and meetings regarding the school safety plans were not open to the public;

•Transfer Within the System — changing the month to apply to attend an out-of-zone school to April each year and stating the principal shall review the transfer requests; and,

•Alternative School Programs — stating the transfer of a student will be effective following an intake conference that includes the student, parent, and alternative school principal or his/her designee.

Policy changes require two successful readings before changes become effective.

The policy committee of the Cumberland County Board of Education will meet Feb. 2 at 4:30 p.m. at Central Services. The agenda to date includes discussion of employee and student dress codes and substitute teacher pay schedules.

 

Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.