School board voices support for teachers

Abby Cavenaugh

April 30, 2014

At the monthly Anson County Board of Education meeting Monday night, educators spoke out against the General Assembly’s Senate Bill 402, and although the school board did not take any action, board chair Lisa Davis assured educators that the board stands behind them.

SB 402 is the legislative action that seeks to eliminate teachers’ career status, or tenure, and award four-year contracts to the top 25 percent of teachers within a particular school system. If the bill passes, it will go into effect July 1.

However, Superintendent Michael Freeman informed the school board Monday night that a judge has issued an injunction that would allow two public school systems, Guilford and Durham, to be exempt from the new tenure rules. “Legal counsel says this may apply to public school districts across the state,” Freeman said. “I will be keeping you apprised of the situation.”

Anson County Association of Educators president Dannie Montgomery appeared before the board, asking for support of a resolution opposing SB 402.

She stated that the ACAE has circulated petitions, which have been signed by educators from every school in the district. “We want to present Anson County’s unified opposition to SB 402,” she said. Montgomery read from the proposed resolution, which calls for the repeal of SB 402 and identifies opportunities to improve public education in North Carolina.

Davis told Montgomery that it is the board’s policy to have the superintendent and counsel look over any resolution before they can vote on it and sign it. She added that the board will approve the resolution as soon as that happens, and will sign off on it before the General Assembly goes back in session next month.

“We are behind you, Ms. Montgomery,” she said. “We are against SB 402 and we believe it will create many hardships.”

State Rep. Mark Brody was present at the meeting, and when given the opportunity to respond, he said his job requires him to do what his constituents want, even if he may not personally feel it’s the right thing to do. In other business, Rep. Brody spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting and apprised the board of the state legislature’s plans to end the Common Core program in North Carolina.

“If this legislation passes,” he explained, “Common Core will be no more. But we are not going to abandon the standards you have set up. There will be a committee put together and that committee will advise the education standards for the state of North Carolina.”

He added that those standards would be “as high or higher” than Common Core, and that State Superintendent Jane Atkinson is supportive of the change.

During his report to the board, Superintendent Michael Freeman gave the board some information on Anson High School’s recent $2.2 million grant for the Career-Connect Program. He explained that Anson High School was one of only 24 schools in the country to receive this funding, and the only school in North Carolina.

The Career-Connect Program will focus on four key areas: advanced manufacturing, engineering, information technologies, and medical and biomedical sciences. The school will work with business partners in the community to implement internships for students.

“I think this sign of commitment from President Obama’s initiative is a great sign,” Freeman said. “Maybe someday, you’ll go to the doctor here in Anson County and that doctor will say, ‘I was part of the Youth Career-Connect Program at Anson High School.”

School board member Dr. George Truman mentioned the current agriculture and automotive programs at the high school. Freeman responded that Career-Connect will have no effect on either of those already well-performing programs. “It just gives students another option,” he said.

The school board will next meet on May 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Charles Riddle Staff Development Center on Camden Road in Wadesboro.