Joplin School Board Approves Professional Development Programs for Employees | Local News

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The Joplin School Board last week approved $2.9 million for the second year of professional development programs for certified and classified staff, but not before a board member questioned whether classified staff should benefit the same opportunities as staff certified through these programs.

Under the plan as approved, all employees, except replacements, will have the opportunity during the 2022-23 academic year to participate in various professional development programs relevant to their position. Employees may receive up to $2,000 from the district as compensation for completing the programs.

The plan was first launched in January and most employees – 97% of certified and classified staff – participated, said Sarah Mwangi, deputy superintendent of learning services. Certified staff have taken basic training courses on learning management systems or writing reviews, for example, while classified staff have taken courses on technology and security techniques, a- she declared.

That first year cost the district just over $2.6 million, Mwangi said. That and the second year of programs approved by the board last week are made possible by federal coronavirus relief funds.

Mwangi said nearly 90% of staff, surveyed, found the programs “very valuable” or “valuable”. She said administrators will work over the summer to fine-tune programs before employees return in the fall.

Most board members approved the continuation of the professional development plan for a second year.

“I like that it’s not ‘one size fits all’, that our staff and employees can pick and choose which sections are relevant to them so they can work on areas they see as beneficial or necessary,” said Board Chairman Jeff Koch. .

Board member John Hird, citing concerns about financial responsibility and academic achievement, questioned why classified staff were given the same opportunities as certified staff.

“I like the idea of ​​investing in our teachers with training, with the idea that there is connective tissue, that it affects our students and that improves the learning experience,” he said. -he declares. “I would invest in (staff) classified in a different way, but not in this program, because you’re not going to see a direct correlation with the students, their scores and their learning.”

Kerry Sachetta, the incoming superintendent, challenged the idea that classified staff are not essential to student academic success.

“Everyone who works in the operations and human resources department and everything else is there to support the class,” he said. “I would say the importance of the operations departments is very important. The quality and efficiency with which they do their job supports the class, obviously.”

Hird also floated the idea of ​​delaying the implementation of the second year for 12 months to give administrators time to assess whether the first year of employee professional development had an effect on student academic success, including their results on standardized tests.

“I don’t know what’s in a rush for this one,” he said. “Personally, I wouldn’t be in favor of it because of the timing. I think we would have to see if there is an investment value” from the first year.

In the end, the board unanimously approved year two funding while tasking Mwangi to return next month with all the data available that shows the effectiveness of year one.

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