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Development update voted down for further review

May 20, 2009
MEREDITH — Wary of its usage in upcoming union negotiations, the Inter-Lakes School Board voted 5-1 against passing an update for the school district's professional development master plan.

Curriculum coordinator Kathleen Hill introduced the update as a revision of the original master plan completed and accepted nine years ago. Almost everything in the plan, Hill said, was a requirement of the state – "we took out all the fluff." The only thing the district requires that the state does not, Hill said, is that the district requires hours in technology training for teachers.

The professional development master plan structures the planning, goal-setting, and record-keeping processes to "ensure consistency of the process and a certified staff." The plan provides support for educators through professional development, linking it with continuous school and self-improvement. Professional development increases the professional knowledge and skills of teacher for "improved professional performance and improved student achievement."

Discussion mostly centered on whether the district would save money by putting the update online rather than in a hard copy, until School Board member Dan Cunningham remembered where and when the document had recently been used.

"I understand it is more something that we have to do to fulfill guidelines," said Cunningham. "But in the negotiations with the teachers' union, this was often brought up. We couldn't discuss things in the contract because it was already spelled out in the professional development master plan. By not studying it, we're setting ourselves up for more difficult negotiations in a year and a half."

Cunningham asked for more time, at least one more meeting, for the board to review the update, before approving it. The deadline for the document is set for June 30 of this year.

School Board Chair Jack Carty asked if the board could approve it to "get the state off your back," but continue to revisit it and change it in the next year.

"The document was constantly held up and waved at us as a basic authority," remembered Carty. "We were stymied by an existing plan."

Hill said she didn't know how the plan affected negotiations and was "kind of baffled" by the question. She said that she didn't see why the plan couldn't be revised, but noted that she'd never gone to the state to ask for a revision a year later. Inter-Lakes School Superintendent Phil McCormack said that the process was so involved that once a school district goes through it, they normally don't want to repeat the process so soon.

School Board member Howard Cunningham asked whether the motion should be amended to include the opportunity to revise it as a result of negotiations. Carty said that "once we're over the hurdle, we can't go back."

McCormack said that he didn't think the board should be discussing the negotiation process in a public session.

The board then voted 5-1 not to approve and accept the update to the professional development master plan, with Carty abstaining and Howard Cunningham dissenting.

"Go back and revise it," said Carty.

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