With the uncertainty of the coming school year, just how will the Harrison School District handle the potential need for substitute teachers?
Most districts have contingency plans for isolating students or offering off-site instruction for students. They are prepared to be forgiving of teachers who may have to miss school as a result of the virus.
When the Harrison board met Tuesday night, board member John McCuistion asked Superintendent Dr. Stewart Pratt about the district’s plans for having substitute teachers in place at need.
“We’re worried about it, just being honest,” Pratt said. “We’ve talked about it quite a bit.”
Although Pratt said the district isn’t certain about subs, the agency that supplies sub teachers says it will be able to meet the district’s needs.
“They’ve said that every year and they haven’t quite done it,” Pratt added. “They’ve done a good job, but we don’t know exactly what it’s going to turn out like, Mr. McCuistion.”
Pratt said administration has spoken to staff about the possibility of “group share” in which teachers would work together to cover scheduling holes when a teacher has to be isolated for 14 days.
McCuistion said many people who are substitute teachers love the job and students. He said he’s talked to some who are more than willing to return this year, but others who say they won’t be a sub this year.
Pratt said administrators from the 16 schools that comprise the O.U.R. Co-operative meet regularly and all schools are concerned about the pool of substitutes for the coming year.
He went on to say that retired teachers are one strength in that sub pool. It gives them a little extra money and they’re good at the job.
However, they are also generally among the population most at risk regarding contraction of the novel coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, due to their age.
Susan Gilley, administration executive director, said there is a possibility of utilizing some paraprofessionals at each particular building in a pinch.
The board met in executive session, then returned to open session to vote on Pratt’s recommendations for personnel.
The board voted to hire:
• Alexandria Rogers as teacher at Harrison Kindergarten to replace Ashley Parks effective Aug. 18. Parks was transferred to be a teacher at Skyline Heights Elementary.
• Elizabeth Darden as teacher at Skyline Heights Elementary to replace Kacey Young effective Aug. 18. Young’s resignation effective Aug. 10 was also accepted.
• Matthew Duck as night custodian at the High School to replace Mike Miller effective Aug. 6.
• Danny Tucker as night custodian at the Middle School to replace Patricia Gray effective Aug. 6.
• Alyson McCormick as special education paraprofessional at Forest Heights Elementary to replace Eva Wilson effective Aug. 20.
• Michelle Beeks as administrative assistant/human resources at the Administration Office to replace Amy Peterson effective Aug. 18. Peterson was transferred to become counselor’s administrative assistant at the High School to replace Donna Brightwell effective Aug. 10. Brightwell was transferred to become front office administrative assistant at the High School to replace Kristi Hampton effective Aug. 10. Hampton’s resignation as first aid at the High School was also approved.
• Elizabeth Moore as CNA at Skyline Heights Elementary in a new position effective Aug. 20.
The board voted to accept the resignation or retirement of:
• Lynn Holmes as webmaster and yearbook sponsor at Eagle Heights Elementary/Harrison Kindergarten effective July 30.
• Megan Gibson as 5-8 Social Studies Department chair at the Middle School effective Aug. 10.
• Alex Hale as agricultural teacher at the High School effective July 30.
• Evalea Brightwell as art teacher at Eagle Heights/Forest Heights effective Aug. 10 (retirement).
• Catherine Tanksley as cook at Harrison Pre-School effective Aug. 10.
• Connie Quattlebaum and Becky Borland as first aid at Forest Heights effective Aug. 31.
• Phillip Collie II as district bus driver effective Aug. 10.
• Kristy Clayborn as district bus driver effective Aug. 18.
Pratt told the Daily Times that the district has lost some employees as a direct result of the pandemic.
He explained that a few veteran teachers who have some health issues that might put them more at risk have, based on medical advice, decided to not return to work this year.
None of those on the list approved Tuesday night were identified as leaving due to the pandemic.
Rhonda Selvidge was transferred from administrative assistant at the Administration Office to administrative assistant at Harrison Pre-School to replace Judy Sullins effective Aug. 17.
The board approved supplemental salary for Mary Arnold as freshman class sponsor at the High School to replace Shelby Davenport and Kayla Holland as 5th grade chair at the Middle School to replace Becky Mathis. Both are effective for the 2020-21 school year.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The board talked at length about the district’s plan to start the 2020-21 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. See the weekend edition for that story.