The Montrose Area School Board approved high school social studies teacher Sean Castellani as acting assistant high school principal at a salary of $80,000.
High School Principal Bill King accepted the position as the superintendent of Lakeland in November.
The board also reorganized Monday, voting Mary Homan, Region 3 School Director, as president; and Amy Lyden, Region 1, as vice president.
John Wood joined the board as a Region 3 School Director, and the board bid a fond goodbye to board member Karl Wimmer. Wimmer did not seek re-election, and Wood took his seat on the board.
Wimmer was one of the board’s longest serving members and served the district through a decade of technological expansion as a member of the board’s technology committee and the recently settled but lengthy teachers’ contract negotiations, Superintendent
Carol Boyce noted.
“We are grateful for your valuable contributions, and the example you have made to the community and your efforts to help our children succeed in education,” Boyce said to much applause. “Karl, we hope you’ll be a continuing resource to all of us,” Boyce said.
“I’d like to thank him for all of his work that he’s done over the years for the kids in this district,” said Craig Owens, the district’s technology coordinator.
In other business, Boyce explained the junior and senior high administration decided to condense 13 of its department head job descriptions down to nine in the light of mass teacher resignations earlier this year.
Two examples given were that the district Art and Music departments were combined into the Fine Arts department; and Family, Consumer Science and Business departments combined under the Applied Arts.
“Not only does this streamline things and assist in moving forward in a management stance, it also is a cost savings,” Boyce said, adding that it is projected to result in an annual savings to the district of $5,000.
“Personally, it’s hard for me to imagine a single department head being able to make a single contribution in all those areas,” said board member Richard Jordan.
Boyce said she hoped to put the changes into effect early next year.
Boyce also drew the board’s attention to the issue of substitute pay rates, which have not been adjusted in over 10 years.
“These substitute pay rates have not been the same since 2005,” Boyce said. Substitute teachers current start at a daily rate of $80 with an increase to $85 a day. “They can actually go to a minimum wage job and make more than that,” she observed.
Under her proposal, substitutes would be compensated under a three-step process and daily pay would start at $100 a day for the first 45 days and jump to $150 a day for the next 45 for the same teaching assignment. Past 91 days substitutes would be paid at the scale paid to teachers with a bachelor’s degree “plus one” pay step, about $41,000 a year.
The district sees 584-1/2 substitute days a year and if put into place mid-year at the beginning of January is expected to cost the district about $5,000.
Boyce said she wanted to try the new three-step process on a trial basis subject to review at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
“I need to see the whole budget to see if this is going to make any sense for the ’18-’19 school year,” Jordan said.
Teri Evans, president of the teachers’ union, the Montrose Education Association, asked if the board had any intention of formally posting Boyce’s position once it becomes vacant at the end of June 2018.
The board has said that it is strongly favoring filling her position with Choconut Valley Elementary School Principal Chris McComb and posted its intentions towards hiring him on the district’s website, asking for public input.
“My basic question would be, ‘What’s the harm in posting it?” Evans, who resides in the Elk Lake School District, asked. “What do we hope to achieve by not posting it, even just to simply put it out there and allow any candidate – any properly certified candidate – to express his or her same intent? I think that provides this district with the utmost transparency.”
“Did you go to your board meeting there and request the same thing of them?” board member Gloria Smith asked, saying that Elk Lake used the same process to select its current superintendent.
Evans said that no, she had not.
“I think we have a strong preference to hire from within. We develop talent from within,” Finance Committee member Paul Adams said.
Evans said it appeared that positions such as teacher’s aides and cafeteria workers received more posting that the upcoming superintendent’s position.
“There’s more posting for that than there is for the head of the district,” she said.
“If anyone else is interested in the job, I’d love to hear from them,” Jordan said.