CHAPEL HILL- Chapel Hill-Carrboro educators are rejecting the changes to teacher tenure mandated by the General Assembly, and they want school board members to do the same.
Deborah Gerhardt was one of 40 parents and teachers who came out to Thursday’s Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education meeting to demand the board condemn the state-mandated changes to teacher tenure.
“I am basically here to plead with you to stand behind the parents and the teachers in this district and help us to voice how horrible we think this law is and how insulting it is to our teachers,” Gerhardt told the school board.
Wearing red to show support for education, the crowd asked the district’s elected leaders to take a firm stand against the new state law that will do away with career status for teachers, instead offering four year contracts and a $500 bonus to 25 percent of teachers while the rest get year-to-year contracts.
In an effort to sidestep the competitive aspect of the new law while still complying with the mandate, Chapel Hill-Carrboro administrators offered qualified teachers the option of volunteering for the new contracts instead of being ranked by school officials.
Human Resources Director Arasi Adkins said this opt-in policy would prevent teachers from feeling like they were vying against their peers for job security and extra pay. Superintendent Tom Forcella agreed, noting district teachers help craft the policy.
“Our opt-in model, I think, makes a statement in and of itself that we don’t agree with this particular law and the whole concept of merit pay.” said Forcella. “
But teachers throughout the district have resoundingly rejected the proposal. Adkins said of the 800 educators eligible to opt in, only 10 decided to do so.
Instead, the parents and teachers at the meeting said they want the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system to join the growing number of school districts that are protesting the loss of teacher tenure.
The Guilford County and Durham County school boards have each voted to join a lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the changes from being implemented, while the Wake County school board adopted a three-page resolution asking the legislature to repeal the new law.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board members said they stand behind the districts teachers, but worry that joining the lawsuit could have unintended consequences, as the legislature could choose to appoint new board members if the district did not comply with state law.
“Unfortunately, in this state, the legislature holds all the power,” said board member Mike Kelley. “The local governments, including school boards, have none that isn’t granted to them by the legislature, and the legislature can take that away at any time.”
Kelley and other board members urged the audience to focus on voter outreach to change the make-up of the General Assembly.
School board members also indicated they would consider a resolution condemning the new state law while still offering four-year contracts to the handful of teachers who opt in. The board could consider that measure at its next meeting on March 20.