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Webster school board agrees to hire foreign language teacher

by Minden Press-Herald

At the recommendation of Webster Parish Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls, the school board agreed to hire another foreign language teacher on a permanent basis.

Elizabeth Fisherkeller’s position, which will be funded for one semester with the full intention for her to be employed for the 2015-16 school year, was unanimously approved.

“(She) is a foreign language teacher, and you can’t find foreign language teachers,” Rawls said. “I have instructed Mrs. (Charlotte) Dean (interim personnel supervisor) to go ahead and employ her, because there are two issues at play here.”

One is the possibility of losing a current foreign language teacher at the end of the school year.

“The other problem is we don’t have an ESL teacher for second language in the elementary school,” Rawls said. “We just don’t have them. But more than that, Bulletin (741) says you can’t have more than 33 students in a room, and in Minden High School, you have in excess of 40 in a classroom.”

Title 28 of the Louisiana Administrative Code addresses class size, indicating that grades 4-12 cannot have more than 33 students in one class, no more than 26 in grades K-3.

ESL, or English as a Second Language, is a program by federal and state statutes that mandate school systems to provide someone to teach English to non-English speaking students.

And Fisherkeller fits the bill. She is certified to teach ESL in all grades, K-12, Rawls said.

“If you can find one, you don’t let them out of your sight,” the superintendent added.

By mandate of Act 1, Rawls does not have to seek permission from the school board to hire someone to fill a vacant position. But if he wants to create a new position, he must take it before the board. In essence, if he cannot pay Fisherkeller through a vacant position, he sought approval to create a new position in order to keep her with Webster Parish and the board agreed.

Rawls said the situation arose when the foreign language teacher at Minden High took a leave of absence, leaving a temporarily vacant position. Fisherkeller was hired to fill that vacancy until the other teacher returned. Rawls said the teacher returned sooner than expected leaving him with what he felt was no other option than to approach the board to keep her.

Minden High now has two foreign language teachers which alleviates the class size requirement of having 33 students or less.

“If I do find an open position, I will use that to fund her for the second semester,” he said.

The motion to approve Rawls’ request was made by board member Johnnye Kennon, district 10, seconded by board member Frankie Mitchell, district 9.

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