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Teacher contracts not renewed; several factors involved

Madison Board of Education did not renew 25 teacher contracts at its May 21 meeting.

“Less than half of that number related to poor performance,” Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler said. In 2011, the total of non-renewals was greater.

“Decisions have to be made in secondary school to create a ‘school rich’ environment for the entire school,” Fowler said. He cited an example of a school that needs a Scholars Bowl coach. “When that school has an opening, we’re more like to hire someone who is willing to coach Scholars Bowl.”

Fowler said administrators must deal with these “climate decisions” each year.

“Everyone with less than three years (of experience with the school system) is trying for tenure,” Fowler said. “Sometimes a teacher may not be a good fit after the first year, but we give the teacher the second year to improve.”

Fowler disagreed that non-renewals served as a cost-cutting measure. “We find the best teacher that we can find. If we spend a few more bucks, we spend more bucks.”

Other contracts that weren’t renewed involved teachers on extended, maternity or sick leave or taking a leave of absence.

“Demographics change in schools. It could be an elementary school had a loss of a unit,” Fowler said. However, the cause is not fewer students. In Madison, another school usually gains that unit due to shift in population.

In 2011, the board did not renew 40 contracts.

“Last year at Bob Jones High School with 2,300 kids, some courses didn’t make. It’s a yearly thing that we evaluate. We don’t go by how many kids but by interest,” he said.

Teachers were not laid off who instruct fine arts courses at Discovery and Liberty middle schools and Bob Jones. At a board meeting earlier this year, several parents expressed displeasure at the possibility of losing a middle school music teacher.

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