Representatives of Fairfax County teachers have urged the school board to seek special federal funding for teacher training, but the board has indicated it does not want the grant.
The board, at its regular meeting last week, also heard complaints from parent representatives opposing a change in the status quo of "extended" day care programs in the schools. The school board is scheduled to act Oct. 12 on whether to transfer the administration of the day care facilities from the school system to the county, which already funds the program. The extended day care program in some schools provides supervision to students already enrolled in an elementary school before and after regular school hours.
As for the teacher training proposal, representatives of the Fairfax Education Association (FEA) asked the board to join them in applying for a federal "teacher center" grant that would fund a comprehensive and structured program to train county teachers. Most county teachers are FEA members.
Fairfax County schools currently give teachers "in-service" training that includes workshops and seminars throughout the year on new teaching programs, teaching methods and management skills. But much of the training is given at the discretion of individual schools and done on such an informal basis that it is difficult to determine the extent of teacher training, said William J. Burkholder, associate superintendent for school staff.
"It (teacher center) is a program which would provide opportunity for teachers to share similar concerns," said Marilyn Rogers, an elementary school teacher and an FEA member. "After only two brief workshops, over 70 teachers have expressed interest and are actively working for the implementation of a teacher center here in Fairfax County," she told the board.
The school board, although apparently opposed to the federal grant application, directed school staff to develop an organized, comprehensive teacher training program for school board review later this fall. Like the teacher center concept, the program would determine what teachers need and want to study and set up a way to give the training to interested county teachers.
The school board members said they object to seeking the federal grant because it includes a regulation calling for a policy board to govern the training in which 51 per cent of the members would be teachers.
"Given recent decisions against collective bargaining for teachers in Virginia, we feel we would have a problem delegating authority to a teachers group like the FEA to control the program," Burkholder said.
The Virginia Supreme Court in 1977 decided that collective bargaining among teachers and other public employes was illegal. Fairfax County has nearly 8,000 teachers.
"Even if it weren't the FEA representing the teachers, we still would have the problem of giving control over the teacher center to teachers. It could conflict with the school board's responsibility to run the school systems," Burkholder said.
Rogers told the board that current teacher training focuses on new information in school policies and programs. Teacher centers, an ongoing program, would help solve problems as they come up when new programs are put into effect, she said.
This year, 61 teacher center grants were awarded through the U.S. Office of Education, which received 486 grant requests. The Radford City school board was the only Virginia school system to receive a grant.
Concerning the day care issue, Nancy Craun, who has children in the Lemon Road Elementary School extended day care program - one of 15 such programs in county elementary schools - asked the board last week to delay acting on the day care question until parents can "properly research what this may mean to our children."
School Superintendent S. John Davis proposes transfering administrative duties of the day care program, such as paying salaries and keeping track of personnel, from school personnel to county personnel. The county already pays for the extended day care programs with $470,000 budgeted this year.
"There is absolutely no intention of changing the the program," said John Hess, of the school's budget office, who conducted a day care study. "In the superintendent's opinion, extended day care is not an educational program.We want to get out of the business of personnel and payroll."
But the parents involved are not convinced there will be no change in the four-year program that serves 530 students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The parents, represented by an extended day care advisory council to the school board, regard the program as successful and want to keep it growing.
Four schools were added to the program this year, and there was still 130 students on the waiting list, Hess said. Some students from other schools go to extended day care at schools that have the programs.
"The schools say it's just a paper transfer, but we have no guarantee of that. We have nothing in writing" Craun said. "We're afraid that county management will only separate it more from the regular school program. We just don't know the long range implications, and we want time to study them."
Robert Koreski, of the Fairfax County Executive's Office, said the county probably would have a response to Davis' request this week.