By KATHERINE LEWIS
Thursday, April 24, 2008
It´s the worst time of the year for Lyle Farmar.
It is the time of year when the Collier County Education Association, which represents 80 percent of the district´s teachers, begins to learn about those first-, second- and third-year teachers who will not be asked back next year.
But Farmar, who serves as the service unit director for the teacher´s union, has noticed something different this year.
“There are more teachers whose contracts are not being renewed than ever before,” he said. “I would say I have been contacted by 35 to 40 of them, and I would say there are at least 60. ... I think it is the district´s way of saying here´s how we get rid of people before a (reduction in force).”
According to the contract between teachers and the district, administrative officials can dismiss a teacher at the end of his or her first, second or third year of teaching for any reason.
But Allun Hamblett, executive director of human resources for the district, said he thinks 60 non-renewals sounds “bizarre.” Hamblett said he did not know how many teachers received non-renewals, but said some of those teachers could resign as annual contract teachers, which would factor into the figure.
Hamblett said the district is not reducing its workforce by not renewing contracts.
“We do have teaching positions we are concerned about,” he said. “And if we have to make cuts, it would be annual contract teachers first, but we aren´t cutting people now.”
Hamblett said there are some secondary school issues the district is working on in regard to teachers.
But Farmar said it goes beyond that. He showed the Daily News a copy of an elementary school teacher´s review dated March 25 that showed the teacher received high marks from her superior. But about two weeks later, the same teacher received a letter that her contract was not going to be renewed.
Farmar did not identify the teacher in question.
“These teachers have done everything asked of them. They are exceptional, and they are not getting renewed,” he said.
Hamblett said an evaluation does not completely reflect why a teacher would not be asked back. He said there could be other issues, including professional practice issues, that could not be resolved and would lead the district to not renew a contract.
Hamblett said the district needs to ensure that it has the best teachers in place at the end of their three years of annual contracts because after a teacher has been in the district four years, it is harder to weed out the bad because teachers are guaranteed a spot.
“We need to have the best teachers in the different positions,” he said. “Once you have that fourth year, you essentially have a contract for life. It is times like the one we are going through now where we need to make sure we have good standards for our teachers.”
Collier County will not hold a job fair this year either as a result of a declining student enrollment. Last year, the district brought about 200 new teachers in for interviews as part of its hiring fair.
© Naples News