Teacher Advisory Committee Meeting

Teacher Advisory Committee to the Superintendent

Meeting Summary Notes: September 10, 2018


Meeting Summary Notes are intended to serve as the superintendent’s reflection on the discussions that occur during advisory committee meetings.  They are not intended to be exhaustive.  Instead, they are intended to serve as a general record for our on-going efforts to assess our needs, determine our goals, map out our strategies, and evaluate our policies, procedures and programs.  Participants should contact the superintendent if they observe any critical oversight or misinterpretation in these notes.


Participants present: Tommy Crawford (MVES), Angie Nicely (CES), Cindy Fox (CMS), Tonya Jones (CMS), Melissa Nicely (SES), Lorie Bess (Administrative Asst.), Fred Vaughan (Director of HR and Pupil Personnel), Mary Jane Mutispaugh (Director of Instruction), Jan Hobbs (Director of Assessment and Accountability), and Eugene Kotulka (Superintendent)


  1. 1.Mr. Kotulka welcomed everyone to the meeting and discussed the purpose of the Teacher Advisory Committee.  He reminded participants it is helpful to send any suggestions, concerns, or questions to him ahead of time as some topics require research.  He explained the committee provides valuable input and it should be considered an open forum, unless there is a specific personnel issue, which would need to be discussed privately.      


  2. This year’s TAC meetings will take place on the following dates: September 10; October 8, November 5, February 6, March 11; and April 8.  All meetings begin at 4:00 p.m.  If schools are cancelled due to inclement weather then the TAC meeting is also cancelled.


  3. 3.Mr. Kotulka reported he had received a lot of positive feedback for the Chromebooks.  He reminded participants that the Chromebooks are not intended to replace teachers, but they are to serve as a resource for the teacher to use. 


  4. 4.Mr. Kotulka discussed the New Tech program at Alleghany High School.  He explained it is a different way for students to learn and SOL information is still incorporated.  He stated he realizes it is a change but he believes it will make our students ready for college and/or the workplace after high school.  He reported the school will hold a public extravaganza on November 13 to showcase the program and encouraged everyone to attend.


  5. 5.Mr. Kotulka discussed the new accreditation system.  He reported superintendents have been working with the state to look at subgroups (white, black, ESL, SPED, Asian, etc.) because it is not accurate to use generalized groups.  He stated accreditation isn’t only about academics; you also have to look at chronic absenteeism, graduation rates, dropout rates, CTE certifications, and other things.  He stated schools need to be accredited based on more than just test grades. 


  6. 6.Mr. Kotulka reported Ms. Mutispaugh is forming a committee to discuss grading scales and will report to the school board in February. 
  7. 7.Mr. Kotulka reported we currently use 6-week grading periods and questioned if teachers would prefer a 9-week grading period.  He asked everyone to poll their coworkers and provide input to Ms. Mutispaugh.


  8. 8.Mr. Kotulka discussed teacher salaries and stated the state does not support us.  He encouraged everyone to be vocal and share their thoughts with Delegate Terry Austin and Senator Creigh Deeds. 


  9. 9.Mr. Vaughan discussed safety.  He noted all schools now have entrances that lead visitors directly to the main office.  He noted as a new safety measure, all visitors who intend to go into the building must leave their photo ID at the office.  He reported there are now SRO’s at each building.  He stated all school safety plans have been revised, reviewed and accepted.  He stated he recently attended a school safety conference and is pleased our division is, in some ways, ahead of the game on safety measures. 


  10. 10.Mr. Kotulka informed participants an online survey would be emailed next week for employees to complete.  The survey focuses on employee engagement and he encouraged everyone to participate and to be honest.


  11. 11.Mr. Kotulka reported he recently asked employees to provide him a list of “barriers” that prevent them from doing their best.  He stated some of the responses were “poor communication”.  He explained he needs to know specifically what that means so he can work to fix it.  He asked if anyone has concerns, to please let him know and be as specific as possible. 


  12. A participant expressed concern about working an extended school day during the first semester, further stating this means all teachers in the division are working 7 free days during the first semester.  Mr. Kotulka explained we do this because the high school is on a 4x4 block schedule, which means we are required to be in class a certain number of hours, so the day had to be extended.  If we take the bank days out, we will have to make up the missed days.  Also, more days were added into the calendar for Early Release this year.


  13. A participant expressed concern the phones are still not hooked up at MVES.  Mr. Kotulka replied they should contact Mr. Alleman or Mr. Truett and to have a backup plan in place until they are hooked up.  He reminded everyone there is an emergency landline in each building in the event the power would go out. 


  14. A participant asked what is being done to recruit new substitute teachers.  Mr. Vaughan provided the following information to include in these notes in response to this question:


    Recruiting substitutes:

  15. A participant asked if any thought had been given to paying current teachers to cover other classes.  Mr. Kotulka replied he would have Mr. Vaughan look in to it. 


    Follow up from Mr. Vaughan: 

    These are results from 14 of 16 HR directors from the region responding last December.

    Question: If you can’t find a substitute, do you pay a teacher an hourly rate to fill in for someone’s class during their “planning?”

                  Yes: 0.00%          

                  No:  100%


  16. A participant stated new teachers were told that no grades should be entered into the grade book that are below a 50 but how is this fair to a student who works hard and gets a 60 for the six weeks while another student that turns in nothing still gets a 50?  Ms. Mutispaugh explained this is an administrative guideline, not a written policy and the committee can take a look at it.  Mr. Kotulka stated teachers should continue doing what they are doing now until the committee has a chance to review it and offer feedback. 


  17. A participant asked if the 24-hour response time is still an expectation and does this include principals.  Mr. Kotulka replied it is an expectation for everyone to respond within 24 hours and to let him know if this isn’t the case. 


  18. A participant stated employees who recently attended a New Tech Conference were posting pictures on social media of them attending a baseball game and there were questions about who paid for the game tickets.  Mr. Kotulka replied each employee paid for their own game ticket. 


  19. A participant stated when New Tech was presented it was supposed to be a school within a school, but now everyone is “forced” into it and will the middle school have to do this program at some point.  Mr. Kotulka replied he wished everyone could have attended the New Tech visit in Blytheville to see how the New Tech program turned that high school from the worst to the best in only four years. He stated he realizes it is a different way of teaching and learning, but he firmly believes it is best for all students. 


  20. A participant asked why so many people are leaving our division to work elsewhere.  Mr. Kotulka replied of all the employees that left last year, only two left because they were disgruntled and/or terminated.


  21. A participant asked how many personal and sick days employees get, including the administration/superintendent.  Mr. Kotulka replied administrators do not get any personal days and they receive the same number of sick days as all other 12-month employees.   Please refer to Policy GCBD-RA (Sick Leave) and Policy GCBD-RC (Personal Leave).   


  22. Some concerns were shared regarding the possibility of flooding.  Mr. Kotulka noted equipment on the first floor at the high school would be moved upstairs on Thursday.  He stated we stay in close contact with the County office and the Emergency Management team.  He stated “reverse 911” calls would be used for notifications in the event of an emergency, not School Messenger.   
  • Had last year’s substitute teachers pre-approved pending the attendance at an   orientation meeting at the May 21, 2018 School Board meeting;
  • Have conducted 8 substitute orientation meetings throughout the summer and early        school year;
  • Continuously advertise on our webpage;
  • Advertised upcoming orientations through Facebook and Twitter;
  • Advertised orientation dates in the Virginian Review and Alleghany Journal;
  • Worked with the State Police in creating electronic fingerprint sites at the Alleghany        County Sherriff’s Department and Clifton Forge PD to receive fingerprint results within            48 hours as opposed to 6-8 weeks;
  • We pay the $25 fingerprint fee for new applicants;
  • CPS has moved to an electronic system returning background information within 2-3      weeks as opposed to 6-8 weeks;
  • Have conducted individualized orientations for returning substitutes and college students who have been unable to attend planned orientation sessions; and
  • Substitute teachers received a 5% pay increase this year, with a recommended 5%

    next year.


    We have currently 40 actively trained substitutes.  From August 8 – September 24, we had a fill rate of 84% with an average of 11 absences per day.  8% of the absences are professional leave, and 9% personal leave. 



The meeting ended at 5:10 p.m.  NEXT MEETING:  October 8, 4:00 p.m.   


The Alleghany County School Board does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, political affiliation, disability, or age in its programs and activities.  The following have been designated as the contact regarding compliance issues associated with this non-discrimination policy and compliance with Title IX:  Director of Human Resources and Pupil Personnel and Director of Assessment and Accountability.  For questions and compliance with Section 504 and ADA contact the Director of Special Education.  Alleghany County School Board Office, 100 Central Circle/P.O. Drawer 140, Low Moor, Virginia 24457. 540-863-1800.