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School Board to discuss district policy changes, salary schedules

Monday, May 10, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 12:53 p.m. CDT, Monday, May 10, 2010

COLUMBIA — Technology will be impacting the Columbia Public School Board meeting Monday night in more ways than one.

Along with the board officially going paperless for the first time, the agenda includes the presentation of proposed changes to the district's staff/student relations policy due to the use of social media by teachers and students.

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The current 250-word staff/student relations policy is proposed to be replaced by a policy that includes 17 concrete violations of physical and emotional boundaries and three additional forbidden actions by staff members such as knowingly allowing students access to the staff member's personal social networking website or web page that discusses behaviors "associated with the staff member's private life that would be inappropriate to discuss with a student at school."

The Missouri School Boards' Association introduced these changes and Board president Jan Mees said that they were primarily based on statewide and national issues that have appeared as technology has developed.

The explanation of these changes included in the proposal states, "This policy has been rewritten to address the alarming increase in inappropriate sexual
behavior between staff and students."

"Anytime new technology appears we have to talk about policy," Superintendent Chris Belcher said. "We have to consider its impact on instruction and other issues that have appeared. We have to evolve along with the technology."

Belcher said he doesn't anticipate the proposed staff/student relations policy to make it past the meeting, saying that he plans on suggesting that it be tabled and sent back to the policy committee for review. Belcher said he will be chairing the policy committee starting July 1.

"We need to spend about a year reviewing this policy," he said. "I don't want to underreact and I don't want to overreact."

The 2010-2011 salary schedules for new hires will reappear in Monday's meeting as Board members held off making a decision on the issue during the April 12 board meeting.

Mary Laffey, assistant superintendent for human resources, said the information that will be provided to the Board is more complete than it was in the last meeting when Mees said lingering questions about the issue required further discussion.

The proposed salary schedules were created after a professional compensation company came in 2006-2007 to make pay recommendations to the school district. Laffey said the findings concluded "it was not appropriate to use the teacher salary schedule for other positions that were not teachers. The jobs are different."

In the current salary schedule, employees receive raises based on years of experience, known as steps, and additional hours of academic credit. The new salary schedule does not allow for the same kind of advancement in all positions.

"Its' a big paradigm shift to take people off a pay schedule they were anticipating," Mees said.

The proposed salary schedules are designed for the positions of nurses, outreach counselors, home school communicators, instructional aides and Parents as Teachers participants.

"In the last meeting we had a salary schedule for all positions except for Parents as Teachers," Laffey said.

Between the two meetings, Laffey said that district employees had more time to ask questions about the topic. Laffey said she contacted all employees and invited any with questions to attend a meeting on April 28.

Although only two instructional aides attended, Laffey said she felt this was due to the extended time that employees had to discuss the proposed changes with their supervisors.

"I'm hopeful that the board will feel Monday night that they have all the information they need to take action," Laffey said. 

Other topics that are scheduled to be addressed include:

  • 2009-2010 budget amendments
  • Comprehensive School Improvement Plan strategies that will be presented for Board approval
  • The use of $467,460 from the voter-approved $120 million school bond issue to develop design drawings needed for the construction of new gyms at Rock Bridge High School and Hickman High School

The board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in the district administration building, 1818 W. Worley St.


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