New hiring policy could raise costs for schools

PARKERSBURG – New mandates for hiring teachers could end up costing Wood County Schools thousands of dollars to pay teachers to staff interviews.

Bob Harris, assistant superintendent of Wood County Schools, provided members of the Wood County Board of Education with information on changes in the county’s hiring policies during Tuesday’s regular school board meeting.

The new policies were mandated by the West Virginia Legislature and allow for input from teachers and faculty senate groups. In some cases as many as 11 teachers could participate in the hiring process at a school. Those teachers are to be paid for as much as three hours per interview for their work. That could add up to thousands of dollars in unfunded costs for the school system, Harris reported.

Wood County Schools had about 500 vacant (professional and service) positions to fill prior to the school year. Harris noted at one school, officials had 169 applicants for one position.

Finance Director Connie Roberts said school officials have been asked to estimate the projected costs. State education officials will take the estimated costs to the Legislature and seek relief. Roberts said she initially pegged those costs at about $35,000, but it could be double.

Harris handed board members a list of schools and how those respective faculty senates will participate in the hiring practices.

Five schools’ faculty senates opted not to participate in the process. Three schools will use a single designee. Seven schools will have three faculty senate individuals participate. Twelve schools will use the model that utilizes between 7 -11 faculty senate members in the process.

Roberts said those involved in the process will be paid for as much as three hours per interview (for any position with four or more candidates) at their regular hourly rate. The number of total hours will depend on the number of vacancies.

Principals will not be paid for their part in the process as school system administrators noted hiring is part of their regular duties, he said.

Board member Tad Wilson asked why some have opted not to participate in the process. Superintendent Pat Law said the reasons varied.

“‘Not my job,’ expecting it to take too much time and not enough pay,” Law said of some of the reasons cited.

Board members were questioning when teachers will conduct interviews. Board member Lawrence Hasbargen is concerned teachers could be pulled from class to conduct interviews for new hires. Wilson said he has heard it could also take time out of the schools.

Harris said schools and faculty senates can change their position on the process at the end of the semester.

In other business:

* The board voted unanimously, 4-0, and without discussion, to approve acceptance of a quitclaim deed for property located in the Lubeck District. The surface rights are owned by Kathleen and Robert Suck. Board President Tim Yeater was absent.

* Ryan Taylor, president of Pickering Associates, provided an update on work at Parkersburg High’s Stadium Field.

“Come next Friday (Sept. 20) we will have a stadium with seats and people sitting in them,” he said

The stadium will have a seating capacity of about 4,000. School officials are also looking at a gate to close off the visitors section bleachers.

Taylor also said it is unknown if construction caused any damage to the track. Official have not yet pulled up the plywood protecting it. Taylor said he will know more next week.

“I hope everyone will be pleased,” he said.

* Assistant superintendent Joe Oliverio also delivered a presentation on the new electronic format for teacher evaluations.