District embraces new teacher evaluation system
by Mark Bell Contributing Writer
The Harlan Independent Board of Education discussed changes to the district’s teacher evaluation system during a special meeting Wednesday night.
The state’s new Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) is “a totally new way of doing things and looking at things,” Superintendent C.D. Morton told the board.
While the new system “has created some contention” statewide, the district’s leaders are embracing the new system and are encouraged by the progress being made, he said.
The district remains “in the pilot phase” and will be introducing PGES to all teachers during the year “so they are prepared when it is implemented next year,” Morton added.
Currently, the principals and superintendent are the only participants, he noted.
State officials have also directed local boards to share the results of the “tell survey” conducted with staff, Morton reported. While being satisfied with scores for the most part, he said the lower scores were in areas “that are directly tied to financially-related issues” that could be expected in small districts struggling with limited budgets.
Among the items that scored lower were teachers having access to resources and supplies, sufficient professional support personnel being available, and Internet connectivity.
Morton updated the board on construction projects, saying the elementary work to build an access ramp and install security doors was largely done. He expected a “punch list” from the contractor soon that would have a minimal number of items on it.
The district is waiting on certification in order to begin using the ramp and doors, but “nothing substantial” was left to be done.
One of the secondary benefits of the project was the district’s ability “to seize the opportunity to control the keys” and make sure the elementary building is secure.
In other action, the board recognized three district students selected as Governor’s Scholars for the current year. Morton noted how unusual it was for a small district to have that many.
Plaques were presented to Bethany James and Yin Chen. Each student was then given the opportunity to share their summer experience in the program with board members. An additional award winner, Will Slusher, was unable to attend the meeting.
The board approved Knox Bus Tours for a Musettes trip to Orlando, Fla., March 29-April 4, and approved the eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C. on April 10-13.
Ticket prices for athletic games were set at the same rate as the prior year: $5 for adults and $1 for students for high school, and $3 and $1 for middle school.
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