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East County Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2019 3 months ago

Teachers' turn to make their move in Manatee County schools

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District says shifting teachers before a new school opens is like a "chess match."
by: Andrew Atkins Staff Writer

As Parrish Community High School prepares to open its doors next school year, the School District of Manatee County will need to fill 23 positions by redistributing staff in the district along with hiring new staff members.

That might make parents of students at Lakewood Ranch High a little nervous since the district already shipped Principal Craig Little and Athletic Director Shawn Trent from Lakewood Ranch to Parrish Community.

Could Little be taking most of Lakewood Ranch High’s best teachers with him?

Sarah Brown, the district’s chief of human resources, said that isn’t going to happen.

“It is not designed where there is going to be a mass exodus of any sort from the feeder schools,” Brown said. “We wouldn’t just let everybody leave a particular school.”

Parrish Community will need 20 teachers, one media specialist and two guidance counselors, Brown said. The process to fill those positions and other positions that consequently come open due to that process, she said, is “like a big chess game. We have to look at where all the holes are going to be.”

The school district will follow what it calls the voluntary/involuntary process for hiring the staff needed for Parrish Community High School, Brown said. Currently, Little is working with six core teachers in areas like math, science, social studies and English to work on crafting curriculums and preparing the school.

In the voluntary/involuntary process, teachers will primarily come from three feeder schools where students will also originate: Lakewood Ranch High School, Braden River High School, and Palmetto High School.

First, teachers from the feeder schools will have the opportunity to volunteer to take positions in the new school. The process follows seniority for each unit — or subject. Teachers with the highest seniority get first choice about whether they’d like to transfer to the new school. The involuntary side of the process comes if every teacher declines the transfer.

The lowest seniority teacher may be involuntarily transferred to a new school or other open positions across the district that would be created by other transfers. Not every position may be filled in this process.

Once the first phase is finished for placement into the new school or other school, the district must assess where the new needs for staffing are across the district. The district will post the open positions online and inform teachers that positions are posted. The process from that point no longer follows seniority, as both teachers and newcomers can apply to the open positions.

Some other vacancies may be created by retirements, resignations and other people leaving by the end of the school year. Altogether, the entire allocation process will account for all teachers across the district, meaning more positions than those at the Parrish Community High School will be filled through that process.

The process will repeat itself every year as the scaled implementation process for students continues. The school will only serve ninth and 10th graders in its first year, but will add a grade every year for three years until the school serves ninth through 12th grades and will concurrently add the necessary teachers each year.

Little said the challenge of preparing a new school, for him, is fun.

“It gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s exciting, it’s fun. You get to create with the community,” he said. “We build together.”

That building includes vision and mission statements, school rules, traditions and the identity of the school itself. The school mascot was recently decided to be a Bull, which was decided by middle school students from feeder schools, Little said.

Dustin Dahlquist, who recently assumed Little’s former position, said he also isn’t worried about the staffing changes.

He said few of his teachers have voiced a desire to transfer to the new school in Parrish.

Altogether, Dahlquist said, the new school is a positive change for Lakewood Ranch High as it will help overcrowding issues in local schools.

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