Asbell sworn; grievance denied

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By Jenna McKenna

Levy County School Board replaced former district one board member Billy Morrison Tuesday with a new board member, Cameron Asbell. Morrison resigned in November. Asbell was sworn in before the meeting by Joseph Smith, County Judge for the Eighth Circuit.

Smith congratulated and thanked Asbell for his service, noting that “these are perilous times in Levy County.”

In other action, the board heard a grievance presented by Levy County Education Association representative Cindy Roach and Suwannee River Service Unit Director George Bowen of Florida Education Association. The grievance concerned Levy County Schools Superintendent Robert Hastings’ handling of a petition by the union to address a planning period use issue at Bronson Elementary School.

Roach said the union had received a complaint about a policy at BES that teachers’ contractually guaranteed planning time was being expended on weekly grade-level School Improvement Model meetings, in what she said was a violation of the terms of the contract. In the grade-level meetings, teachers of the same grade level meet and evaluate their classroom strategies and outcomes.

The contract requires teachers to have no less than 250 planning minutes per week, and not less than 45 consecutive minutes per day. Roach contended that the SIM meetings unreasonably infringe on teachers’ planning time, which they need to put together lesson schemes for five different classroom subjects and multiple levels of student ability.

The board questioned Roach and Bowen, as well as BES Principal Cheryl Beauchamp. Some board members had been classroom teachers, and they discussed their own experience with planning and school improvement. In the end, they concluded, as Hastings had before, that grade level meetings were not the same as faculty meetings, and constituted a valuable component of individual planning.

The board voted unanimously to deny the grievance.