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DISD Trustees To Reverse Teacher Policy

Bill Zeeble

Dallas school board members say they’ll reverse their decision that added 45 unpaid minutes to a teacher’s workday. Complaints about the policy popped up almost immediately after it was adopted in January.

  Teachers said the policy created “busy work” while taking away productive time spent after school with parents and students. Retired teacher Bill Betzen warned from the start the policy would not work.

"The reason teachers teach is being taken away because the reason you teach is you love to succeed you love your kids to succeed. And they’ve created something that’s taking that away from us. They’re really going backwards," Betzen said.

For Trustee Nancy Bingham, the issue’s reaching a tipping point.

"They feel like it's just a lot of busy work. It's not really productive time. They’re just meeting to death and they need the time in their classrooms to tutor children, to work with after-school programs and just to plan for their days. You get to the point where ‘I can’t take anymore,’" said Bingham.

Superintendent Mike Miles says he heard of this issue before he was hired, but wants time to weigh any changes. Many trustees though want a faster fix. Even new trustee Dan Micciche, elected after the policy was established, can’t figure its value.

"No one has told me why this is doing us any good and I haven’t heard a good reason for it and I’ve heard a lot of reasons to eliminate it."

Board President Lew Blackburn said trustees may just eliminate wording that changed the work day from seven hours 45 minutes to eight hours 30 minutes. He cited other districts with no such wording, where the administration and teachers work out the hours, not the school board. Trustees will vote on a change next month based on the Superintendent’s recommendations.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.