ANDERSON — The Anderson schools board voted 6-0 Tuesday to reopen its collective bargaining agreement with teachers, an effort, board members said, to address the state’s grades of local schools and teacher evaluations.
In comments before the vote, Jean Chaille, vice president of the Anderson Community Schools board of trustees, said taking another look at evaluations is necessary because the education landscape has changed.
Parents can now send their children more easily to other schools. “In order to stay viable, we need to remain competitive,” Chaille explained.
In December, Anderson High School and Highland Middle School received “D” grades from the Indiana Department of Education. Highland had received an “F” the previous year.
“There are significant issues and challenges facing ACSC which demand that bargaining commence this September in order to allow the ACSC to respond in a more effective manner to these challenges,” Charles R. Rubright, the school board’s attorney, said in a statement.
Chief among those issues is the need to move quickly to improve student performance at the high school and middle school, he said.
Both schools have been classified as “priority” schools by the Indiana Department of Education because, for two or more consecutive years, they received a “D” or “F” on annual accountability grades.
Each school has implemented an improvement plan, but one of the Department of Education’s requirements for a priority school is that teachers must have an annual evaluation, Rubright said. That evaluation classifies each teacher based on the state’s current regulations as “highly effective,” “effective,” “needs improvement” and “ineffective.”
The teachers’ union and Anderson community schools signed a contract in 2011 that runs through 2018. Under terms of the agreement, each side can reopen negotiations to discuss salary and other compensation, as well as any two items selected by each party, school calendar pay dates or any mutual agreed-upon item, according to Rubright.