NCSS expected to keep hiring globally

COVINGTON - The Newton County Board of Education may decide next month whether to keep a program that provides the system with international teachers.

In June, Newton County School System Superintendent Steven Whatley entered into a contract with Global Teachers Research and Resources with the approval of the school board.

"This agreement allows NCSS to hire international teachers, as needed in critical needs areas, via this third-party provider," said Dennis Carpenter, associate superintendent for Human Resources at NCSS. "These teachers come to the United States after careful screening and an audit of their credentials, which ensures that they meet both state and federal highly qualified teacher standards."

The contract required NCSS to pay a $10,000 annual fee for GTRR to provide them benefits, as well as the teachers' salaries.

Since signing the agreement, NCSS employed 10 teachers from GTRR in math, science, special education and early childhood education during the 2008-09 school year, Carpenter said.

"In the absence of employing 10 international teachers in June of 2008, the NCSS could have possibly begun the 2008-09 school year with at least nine classrooms not staffed with a highly qualified teacher," he said. "Unfortunately, our state and national colleges are not producing enough graduates in secondary math and science or special education to address this growing need. ... This is a statewide problem that has gotten the attention of both the (Georgia) Professional Standards Commission and the state Legislature."

Some NCSS officials also attended a GTRR-sponsored trip to India in January to assist in conducting pre-screenings of potential teachers. The cost for this trip was included in the $10,000 contract fee.

"The screening of candidates was done to ensure that they have the qualifications, content knowledge, classroom management skills and teaching skills needed to be successful in a U.S. school," said Carpenter, who attended the trip with Veterans Memorial Middle School Principal Eric Arena. "In addition, candidates are also screened to ascertain that their accent or language would not be a barrier to student learning."

Carpenter said the school system plans to reemploy six of the 10 teachers it employed this school year.

The contract with GTRR, which can be renewed annually, is set to expire at the end of the 2008-09 school year, so the school board will have to approve a new contract in order to continue the program.

Although NCSS officials have yet to present a new contract to the school board to approve, Carpenter expects the school system to continue it.

"We plan to renew the agreement with GTRR," he said Monday. "This partnership has been very effective."

The Newton County BOE is expected to hold its monthly work session on June 9 and a regular session meeting on June 16. Both are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the board room at the Newton County BOE building at 2109 Newton Drive N.E. in Covington.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.