Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, FL)
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Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, FL) July 16, 2002 Tuesday, City Edition SECTION: METRO; Pg. B-1 LENGTH: 896 words HEADLINE: Board reviews teacher transfers Duval chair urges limits at schools with shortages BYLINE: Laura Diamond, Times-Union staff writer BODY: As the first day of schools approaches, some Duval County principals find themselves short on teachers. The School Board allows teachers to voluntarily transfer to another school. But the transfers are often uneven, with most teachers leaving schools on the Northside and Northwest Jacksonville, board Chairman Jimmie Johnson said. Principals at these schools then must scramble to hire new, and often inexperienced, teachers. In some cases students are taught by substitutes for the first few months of class. To prevent this from happening in the future, Johnson drafted a proposal that would not allow teachers to receive a voluntary transfer from a school that has a shortage of greater than 5 percent. The change would have to be discussed during contract negotiations between the School Board and the teachers' union. It is too late to be negotiated into this year's contract, but if the board approves the measure tonight it could be done next year. 'What folk need to understand is that I am not against the transfer policy, I just want to promote stability,' Johnson said. 'It is all in the interests of the youngsters being served at each school. These youngsters need stability and we should give it to them.' Terrie Brady, president of Duval Teachers United, was out of town attending a conference and could not be reached for comment. Board members will have their first chance tonight to discuss the item, but Vice Chairwoman Kris Barnes called it a good idea. 'We need to do something to keep these people in the schools longer,' Barnes said. 'I think we will need to do other things beyond this, but this is a good place to start.' Board member Linda Sparks was unsure if she would support the proposal. 'We need to do whatever is in the best interest of the student, but we must balance it with job satisfaction for teachers, ' Sparks said. 'We are facing a critical shortage of teachers and some are very frustrated. We cannot ignore their concerns.' Some principals said they would favor a change in policy. The change would allow families to get to know the teachers and become more comfortable with the school, said Maralouise Snyder, principal at John E. Ford Elementary School. 'It would be nice for all the children to get to know the different teachers and look forward to having certain teachers when they get older,' Snyder said. 'While that happens in some schools, it doesn't happen in all of them.' Snyder said the change would allow her to become more familiar with her teachers and evaluate their strengths. She could then move teachers to different grade levels or subject areas where they would help students the most. Johnson said it's crucial for principals on the Northside to be able to make those kinds of decisions because students there typically have the greatest needs. Many of the students come from low-income homes and enter school lacking certain basic skills. 'The schools with the most need are always in a flux of training the inexperienced teacher, ' said Johnson, a former principal. 'The sharing of teacher attrition should be shared at all schools. Right now, the same schools are bearing all the burden and it must stop.' Staff writer Laura Diamond can be reached at (904) 359-4351 or firstname.lastname@example.org.