Onaway changes teacher policy to meet state guidelines

ONAWAY – In an effort to create a consistent policy for laying off, recalling and disciplining teachers, Onaway Area Community Schools Board of Education members went over the draft of such a policy at their meeting Tuesday.

Teachers no longer can negotiate this policy as part of their contracts, board President Sue Lyon said. The board did a first reading of one the board is hoping to adopt so teachers know what is expected and how they’ll be evaluated.

The draft policy was written according to state guidelines, and evaluated by the district’s attorney to ensure it was written properly, Lyon said.

“We tried to write our policy to match that so that there’s some continuity there,” she said. “Teachers will know what is expected, how it will come down if we have to cut, or have to lay off, there are no surprises.”

Previously, seniority was a major consideration when making layoffs and recalls, Lyon said. It’s not as large as it used to be, but it’s still taken into consideration.

“You want somebody that has experience, but it’s not the do-all that it used to be,” she said.

The policy draft is rather lengthy, and Lyon told each board member to go over it at home and study it, she said. Teachers have had no input on its writing, and they likely won’t. She expects the second reading to be at their next meeting on May 9.

In other business:

* board members had voted at their meeting in March to place a renewal for the district’s operating millage on the May 7 ballot, and discussed how to promote it at their meeting. It’s a renewal of the district’s 10-year, 18-mill levy on all non-homestead property within the district.

* board members approved a plan to repair the school’s paging system out of a concern for security, Lyon said. By doing so, they’ll allow anyone who’s alerted of an emergency to call in a lockdown.

* the board accepted the resignation of head cook Debbie Nash and bus driver Darla Ellenberger. They also approved hiring a bus driver to take Ellenberger’s place.

* the board approved third-year probation for Jen Smercina, Lyon said, adding “she’s an excellent band teacher.”

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.