By Alex Saitta
May 7, 2012
Last year school board members fanned out to talk with principals of each school to get their input. This year board members and district leaders visited all 26 schools and other facilities to talk with the staffs to get their input.
Most every school had a concern that was particular to their school, but there were two primary issues that cut across most schools.
The first issue was the lack of pay raises for most employees for the past three or four years. This is a difficult economic environment, so pay raises have been hard to come by for everyone. District employees have understood. We appreciate that as we worked through the pay issue. Thanks to the state legislature, a firming economy and prudent budgeting by the school board and administration, all employees should receive a 2% pay raise next year. Some districts will not have the 2% across the board pay raises.
The second issue centered around the ten teacher in-service days. Those are the teacher work days when students do not attend school. More and more each year teachers have to do professional development or teacher training on those days. Thus, on in-service days they have less time to just be in their classrooms to catch up or work on lesson plans.
Personally, I think if the teacher training is required and helpful, it must be done. However, if it isn’t helpful, that training should be weeded out and all or part of that in-service day should be given to teachers to work in their classroom to catch up or re-set for the start of the next quarter. The district leadership (led by Dr. Kelly Pew) is looking at this and hopes to free up more time for teachers next year during their in-service days.
The employees appreciated the fact board members and district leaders were taking the time to come out and question employees and hear their concerns. The board has never done that before.
Thanks to excellent management of the building program by the administration most of the renovated and new buildings are up and running and employees are happy about their 21st century facilities. Last year at this time the district was eliminating 85 positions and that was devastating morale. Thanks to some tough decisions by the board and administration last year, the budget for next year is balanced and the 3 year streak of position eliminations to balance the budget has ended.
Finally, I think employees appreciate the efforts of Superintendent Dr. Henry Hunt and the board to promote from within. This is giving employees opportunities for advancement that were all but lost under the Dr. Lee D'Andrea administration. The superintendent-elect, Dr. Kelly Pew, was an internal promotion, along with 20 or so other internal promotion to management we’ve made the past year.