Originally created 03/08/06

Board debates ways to poll morale

Discussions of teacher morale turned to questions of trust Tuesday night during Richmond County school board committee meetings.

Before going into a closed session to share their thoughts of Superintendent Charles Larke, board members discussed ways to determine the thoughts of teachers.

Last month, board member Barbara Pulliam asked the school system to survey teachers about their morale. She said she was concerned with complaints she had heard about and read in exit interviews.

On Tuesday, board members considered using both an internal survey of teachers and an outside company, The Center for Teacher Quality, to measure morale.

Dr. Larke also suggested hiring a separate outside company to administer the survey designed by system personnel.

"We don't want to take this lightly," he said. "If there's a morale problem, we want to know about it."

Most seemed to support efforts to measure morale, but how to do that made some question their fellow board members' trust.

"Sitting here listening to this, I'm getting a morale problem," board President Marion Barnes said. "We're saying we don't trust our own people and that's not fair to them."

Mrs. Pulliam, however, said it's not a matter of trust, but a matter of adding validity to the survey results.

Board members also questioned the school system's survey because it asks for the school and experience of teachers.

"Once you get into asking school and number of years you're going to get some teachers not wanting to talk," Mrs. Pulliam said.

A survey using The Center for Teacher Quality would provide analysis and suggestions for improving low morale, Dr. Larke said. By including the names of schools, it would provide more information for school officials to address any problems that are discovered.

Mr. Echols asked, tongue in cheek, if for $50 board members could also be part of the survey so that teachers can give their thoughts on their performance.

"I'm being funny, but I'm not being funny," he said, expressing frustration with some of the discussions.

The board will consider how to proceed during a meeting scheduled for March 21.

Board members also met in closed session to discuss their evaluation of the superintendent. The board will meet with Dr. Larke on Thursday to discuss the evaluation.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

The Richmond County Board of Education will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday at the board's central offices, 864 Broad St.


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