St. John Tradewinds News

Defining financial structures, teacher certifications top agenda of Board of Education on St. John

Board of Education member Kyza Callwood makes a point during a March 18 meeting held in the Julius E. Sprauve School cafetorium. Pictured above: (left to right) Arah Lockhart Callwood, Terrence Joseph, Unknown, Nandi Sekou, Wynona Hendricks; Forward, right — Debra Gottlieb. Photo by Judi Shimel.

CRUZ BAY — The top executive at the Board of Education said she wants to see a clearer demarcation between staff members who handle applications for teacher certification and those who process application fees. Staffing requirements topped the discussions at the scheduled Board of Ed meeting held at the Julius E. Sprauve School on March 18.

Executive Director Debra Gottlieb, former head of the Office of Management and Budget, detailed the need to run an efficient office in her report to the board. With two longstanding staff members set to depart on extended leave, Gottlieb said a temporary worker was required.

In a partial attempt to improve performance in the administrative end, former Senator Emmett Hansen was added as assistant Board of Ed director.

Gottlieb proposed a temporary work contract for a staff member who was brought in previously and had some familiarity with the workload. Board members ratified a temporary contract at a cost of $6,000.

One of the duties in that position is to oversee the processing of teacher certifications. The Division of Personnel indicated to Gottlieb they wanted the staff member responsible for processing fees to meet a set of requirements. Plus, the director said, the functions of processing applications for certification and processing application fees should be kept separate. Under the current system, she said, they are not.

“Although the special assistant who’s acting as the business and finance administrator will be back, she is working in several capacities,” Gottlieb said. If the board approves the proposed change in duties the business and finance administrator will supervise the worker processing application fees.

In addition to ratifying the temporary contract board members also voted to establish individual budgets for the standing committees that provide the operational framework of the education board.

To build stronger links with Board of Ed counterparts, nationwide, they took two additional actions. One directs information technology providers to establish a link on the Board of Ed website where visitors can get information on local and national education programs, proposals and policies.

The other appointed delegates to represent the Virgin Islands Board of Education at the National School Board Association’s Annual Conference.

A number of teacher certifications were approved but one was not. A dispute among board members over the qualifications of an applicant with a Ph. D. in psychology was rejected.

Board of Ed Chairman Wynona Hendricks said the applicant was turned down because they could not show they completed a set of courses offered by the University of the Virgin Islands prior to certification. The matter is being turned over to Arah Lockhart, head of the board’s certification committee for further review.

“It had to do with the requirements the person needed to take,” Hendricks said.

There was also a rejection on another matter when board members turned down a proposal to purchase a commemorative brick for a fundraiser at UVI.