With an unanimous decision, members of the Jay Public School Board of Education, passed a resolution on Thursday, March 8, supporting teachers and promoting an increase in education funding.
The move, which came at the end of the meeting, brought more than 30 teachers and administrators to their feet, many individually thanking board members with handshakes.
The multi-point resolution highlights the underfunding of public schools, how it impacts the Jay School System as a whole, and why the board supports the need for raises at the state level.
"This just shows support for our teachers," Board president David Holcombe said. "This has to be a state-wide deal, to show support for the teachers."
Holcombe said he hopes legislators will get the message that the time is right to find additional funding for education. He said he hopes other schools, especially those within Delaware County, will pass similar resolutions.
"We must back our teachers, if not, we're going to lose them," Holcombe said.
The resolution states "the Jay Public Schools Board of Education is in full support of our teachers and stands ready to take any steps necessary to improve conditions for our teachers - including a district wide suspension of classes."
Holcombe said he hopes the suspension of classes will only take place on one day, on Monday, April 2, but said the board will support the teachers regardless.
During the meeting, Jay Superintendent Bridges encouraged teachers to "be informed" of the real facts involving educational funding in the state and the forces fighting against the interest of education.
He encouraged his educators to also speak up for themselves, and to contact legislators about their desires.
Bridges said he comes from a long line of teachers, and both of his daughters are teachers - with one looking at returning to school, while the other looking to move out of state.
"We matter," Bridges told those at the meeting. "We've get beat up all of the time."
Behind the resolution
Bridges said the wording in the resolution comes from a statewide consortium of schools who support teachers and public education.
"Teachers need raises and public education needs funding," Bridges said. "We're ranked the lowest national [for education] and it's getting worse. We're tired of the disrespect, and ready to be recognized for the kind of work we do."
Bridges said the movement behind the proposed walkout and raises are driven by teachers across the state.
"The administration and school board supports what the teachers do," Bridges said, adding that the school may shut down, if that is what teachers choose to do. "I support my teachers. I'm tired of teachers being treated like second tier professionals."
During the meeting, board members approved allowing the Choices program, taught by Grove Rotary volunteers, to return to the middle school.
The course is designed for eighth grade students and has been part of the middle school curriculum for several years..
The curriculum focuses on real-life topics and encourages students to role play scenario involving money, careers and education.
The decision to renew the program was tabled during the February board meeting.
The board tabled a decision whether to employ or not employ Arlis Henegar as the middle school principal. This is the second board meeting in a row the board has taken this specific action.
During both meetings, Bridges recommended rehiring Henengar as the middle school principal.
Holcombe would not discuss the board's reasons for tabling Henengar's contract, saying the discussion took place in executive session.
He did say the issue would come before the board during the April meeting.
Other items approved by the board members include:
• the district audit for 2016-17.
• the 2018-19 school calendar.
• the resignations of Kamisha Kirby and Adrienne McDonald.
• hiring several positions within the Grand Start Federal Program for both the current and upcoming school year.
• extending Lynn Hendren and Cassie Hampton’s contracts an additional 20 days at their current rate of pay.
• agreements with OKTLE, a software service agreement with municipal account systems; an independent consulting agreement with Collaborating for Results, Inc.; and a renewed contract with West Therapy Speech Pathology services.
• the hiring of certified personnel, non-career personnel, retired temporary teachers and a slate of temporary certified teachers for the 2018-19 school year as presented on lists prepared by Bridges.