LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Jefferson County Public School District's new deal with its teachers' union calls for big changes in how some teachers are hired. But critics say the changes still don't go far enough.

Under the old contract, principals had to hire teachers based on seniority.

The new deal gives principals more authority to hire teachers that they believe best fit their schools.

"There are many great teachers out there. But we have to find the one that fits our school the best, and so this gives us more options, which I'm very pleased with," said Jeffersontown High School Principal Marty Pollio.

Pollio has been principal at J-town High School for six years. He admits, under the old contract, his hands were tied when hiring new teachers.

He could interview only the three most senior teachers on the transfer list.

He says the new deal should give him a larger pool of candidates from which to choose, placing less importance on seniority.

"And anytime we can go from three to many more options to interview to find the best fit for the students at J-town, those that are going to fit our school the best, I think it's a great benefit to our school," he said.

The JCTA leadership agreed to the idea, even though it means a loss of benefit for teachers with longer seniority.

1:02:00  // "We, too, want seniority to be valued. But we also understand the need of some of our less senior teachers and the desire of some of our less senior teachers to be a more meaningful part of the transfer process. So as much as it provides more options for the principals, I think it also provides more options for our members," said DeeAnn Flattery, Executive Director of the JCTA.

Pastor Jerry Stephenson says he's cautiously optimistic. He was among a group of African American ministers who last week called on JCPS to negotiate a contract that empowers principals and benefits students, not just teachers.

He says the new deal is a sign that the school board is listening, but it still does not go far enough.

"I like the words that it's saying, that 'principals will have more authority.' I would prefer it say, 'full authority instead of more.' They would have full authority. That's what they need to have," said Stephenson.

Rev. Stephenson believes principals should be able to more freely choose applicants from even outside the school district. He says he'll reserve final judgment until full details of the contract are released.

The School Board and the JCTA membership must approve the deal before it becomes final.

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