The Jefferson County Board of Education has approved Thomas Jefferson Middle School’s decision to re-staff at least half its teachers.
Thomas Jefferson Middle is the last in a group of struggling schools to make a decision on how to turn around student achievement. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools deemed persistently low-achieving (PLA) are forced to choose one of four turnaround models. Thomas Jefferson Middle is one of 18 PLA schools in JCPS that have made a change to meet adequate yearly progress.
By choosing the re-staffing model the school will have to replace nearly 40 positions.
Assistant principal John Rock said the School-Based Decision Making Council’s recommendation to re-staff may have stemmed from Thomas Jefferson having hired teachers who were contracted into the school by the district via the district’s transfer list.
“We’ve received a large number of staff members from other schools in previous years that went through the audit format and some of (them) were not rehired by some of their schools,” said Rock.
This doesn’t give the school much say in which teachers it hires. While undergoing its turnaround, Thomas Jefferson Middle will not only be allowed to choose which teachers the school hires, but it’ll also be able to run a school specific ad to attract teachers, said Principal Kimberly Gregory.
“With the “Re-staffing” model and as a result of our PLA status, we will have access to new hires earlier and may choose to select people from our transfer list, but are not mandated to select from that list,” Gregory wrote in an email to WFPL.
Thomas Jefferson’s site-based council unanimously approved the re-staffing model. Earlier this year, four other JCPS schools deemed PLA were approved to implement the transformation model. That choice allows schools to keep teachers and set up an evaluation system to measure their effectiveness.
The other two models never considered by JCPS include closing the school or handing over management to an outside agency.
But a school’s model doesn’t limit what its allowed to do to help turn around student success, said Rock. There may be some aspects of the transformation model that are will inadvertently become part of what Thomas Jefferson Middle includes through best practices, he said.
The PLA schools in the third and latest round may face limited funds. Federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) money offered to previous groups of low achieving schools has not been renewed by Congress.