The Montgomery County School Board has placed diversity hiring as a priority in recent years and will continue to do so said Superintendent Dr. Mark Miear at the June 20 regular meeting.
With the staff growing and the retention rate of teachers rising, the diversity among the staff is now starting to reflect the student body. Since last year, the number of minority hires has risen to 10 percent, which is something that Miear hopes to see continue to grow.
“We are seeing that we are hiring teacher candidates that look like our students and research shows that is really important,” he said.
At the meeting, Penny Franklin, school board member for district B, asked the school board to take the issue a step forward and release a statement to students and families in order to make all members who of the schools feel welcome.
“We all have our biases whether they are conscious or unconscious, and it is a hard pushback on that,” Franklin said. “But I don’t think there are any of us sitting here who want any of our children mistreated.”
Franklin has been a member of the school board since 2000. She has one son and one daughter in the Montgomery County school system and she is a graduate of Christiansburg High School.
Franklin and Miear also discussed how to use the statement to also make parents and students more aware of how to report bullying and injustices done to those belonging to minority populations. This is part of a new set of goals that Miear created at the annual school board retreat this past year.
He mentioned how creating an environment of acceptance would aid some of the other goals that he considers a priority as well. One of the goals would be to look more into mental health and suicide prevention programs this next year, which the superintendent and other members agreed would coincide with creating acceptance within the school system.
“We need to welcome all students, regardless of who they are or where they come from,” Miear said. “There are other issues outside of race where we need to say to our students, ‘You can come here and feel safe.’”
By making students and staff more aware of this new goal, the school board hopes that overall members of the community will be better able to recognize and report any mistreatment they may see in the halls. Opening the lines for communication is something that he hopes will create a great impact in creating a welcoming community.
“We will have to look hard at what is happening and how to handle these situations on the busses, on the playing field, and in our classrooms,” Miear said.
The board will vote on the letter at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1 at the Montgomery County Government Center (755 Roanoke St.).