Manassas school officials are hoping lawmakers who returned to the Virginia General Assembly this week will enact a longer probationary period for teachers working in public schools.
The current probationary period for teachers is three years, but that should be extended to five years, Manassas school board members told Del. Jackson Miller and Sen. Charles Colgan, the lawmakers who represent the city in the House of Delegates and the Senate, respectively.
Miller, Colgan and their fellow lawmakers returned to work in the Virginia General Assembly on Wednesday.
Both lawmakers met with school board and Manassas City Council during a joint meeting in December to discuss the legislative priorities of both bodies.
A four or five-year probationary period gives administrators a little more time for the data on teachers and students that pass through their classrooms to “kick in,” Councilman Marc Aveni said during the meeting.
Administrators can use this time to observe the effectiveness of the teacher and measure student achievement.
Ten percent of the teaching staff in Manassas is in its first three years of teaching, school board members said.
While they don’t want anybody in the schools that shouldn’t be teaching, some teachers’ jobs would be saved by a longer probationary period; as it stands right now, if it is a borderline call between termination and a teacher keeping his or her job, administrators would likely choose dismissal.
The school board also asked lawmakers to:
- Provide an increase in state basic aid funding for Kindergarten to 12th grade public education to offset past reductions and fully fund the Standards of Quality (SOQ) commitments of the Commonwealth.
- Repeal the post-Labor Day opening law to permit local school boards to establish a school calendar that reflects the needs of the locality and fulfils the instructional time requirements established by the Virginia State Board of Education.
- Provide continued funding for annual teacher salary increases and the Cost-Of-Competing Allocation (COCA) for Region 4 school divisions for both teachers and support staff.
- Oppose any bills, if introduced, that would require funding to “follow the student.” Such as situations where the home school division offers a virtual school program but the student elects to enroll in one offered by another school division.
- Oppose bills, if introduced, that would divest or limit local school boards of their authority over the formation and operation of charter schools within their divisions.