Zachary addresses key school issues for legislature

If able to help carry out at least a couple of wishes from the principals and Board of Education representatives he’s met with during November, state Rep. Jason Zachary [R-District 14 including Farragut] would at least look to modify one General Assembly law while creating a new one.

“I’ve met with most of the principals in the 14th District over the last couple of weeks. Many of them had similar concerns, about evaluations and about the recess time requirement,” Zachary said Wednesday, Nov. 16. … They made it clear that some of the mandated exercise-time legislation that was passed by the state … that they needed some help to alleviate that because it becomes very difficult for our middle schools and our high schools because they’re not set up to have recess or recreation time.

“So there’s got to be some sort of balance there giving the schools a little bit of leeway,” Zachary added. “I know there’s been talk among a couple of representatives about working to alleviate that, so I’ll be a part of those conversations.”

Zachary said he would “carry a bill” to help solve a problem with retired teachers wishing to continue as substitute teachers.

“Because of the hoops they have to jump through after they are retired, they allow their certification to expire,” he said. “I’m going to carry a bill that will allow them to get an automatic extension of that certification when they retire, assuming they’ve served a certain amount of time and are in good standing.

“With that extension it will allow them to go into the substitute pool and give our teachers a very good option when they go in, whether it’s for math, science, reading or whatever it may be,” he added. “They’ll be able to find a highly qualified sub that will be able to step in and manage their classroom while they’re out.”

Beyond substitutes, “We need to talk about, and have a discussion in Nashville about helping our teachers who really feel like … those [TCAP] scores should not be included in their evaluation,” Zachary said. “I’ll be a part of those conversations; I’ve already had some of those with some people in Nashville.

“We’ll do all we can to alleviate some of that stress on the teachers, to make their job easier,” he added.

In terms of individual schools, “Farragut Intermediate and Farragut Primary [schools] are different from A.L. Lotts [school] … every school is a little bit different and faces unique challenges,” Zachary said.

One of the biggest challenges for Farragut schools specifically, Zachary said, “are the technology needs. … That seems to be something that continues to comes up, is funding for technology. … That’s probably the thing I’ve heard the most in terms of needs at the individual [Farragut] schools.”

Repeated attempts to contact Susan Horn, District 5 Board of Education representative [Far-ragut schools], were unsuccessful.