School board approves plan to implement 25 percent law


Top performing teachers in New Hanover County will be offered multi-year contracts and pay raises in place of tenure starting June 2014.

The New Hanover County Board of Education unanimously approved the contested 25 percent selection process during an April 1 meeting. Vice Chairwoman Jeannette Nichols noted it was approved with hesitation.

Part of the Excellent Public Schools Act passed in 2013, the General Assembly voted to eliminate teacher tenure by 2018 and transition to contracts with the 25 percent selection process.

Teacher selections are based on evaluations from the 2012–13 school year and performance for the 2013–14 school year as noted by principals. Teachers who have not taught for three consecutive years will not be considered.

The top 25 percent will be offered a $500 per year pay raise and a four-year contract. In exchange they will surrender tenure.

Teachers can reject the offer but all teachers will be stripped of tenure by June 2018. Tenure is a status granted a teacher that gives protection from summary dismissal.

Local educators have criticized the law for its potential to divide instead of unite teachers.

Carrie Herstine, an Ogden Elementary School teacher, spoke against the law during the meeting.

“Many of us believe that dividing teachers will destroy team collaboration and planning in our schools,” Herstine said.

The school board approved a resolution in December 2013 that requested the General Assembly repeal the legislation.

Board members discussed individual efforts to talk to legislators about the law and its effect on teachers during the April 1 meeting.

Member Dr. Derrick Hickey suggested the board travel to Raleigh to voice concerns to Rep. Jimmy Dixon, D-Duplin and Onslow counties, who sits on the education committee.

Chairman Donald Hayes said traveling to Raleigh as a group would send the right message.

The board also approved a one-year extension to the county’s lease with Wrightsville Beach Baptist Church.

Fifth-grade students at Wrightsville Beach School will continue to attend classes at the church through June 2015.

The lease included an option for extension into the 2014–15 school year, if necessary.

Classes have been held at the church since the 2012–13 school year. The school board weighed other options in 2013 for handling WBS overcrowding, including an unpopular suggestion to move some students from the Airlie Road area to Bradley Creek Elementary.

The 2015 extension was approved as a stopgap measure while long-term solutions are considered.

In the meantime, the county will continue to pay $2,289 per month for classroom space in the church.

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