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Ogdensburg City School administrative restructuring detailed, criticized

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Ogdensburg City School Superintendent Timothy M. Vernsey outlined the changes that will be coming to the district’s administration over the next several months at Monday’s Board of Education meeting –drawing criticism from Education Association President David G. Price.

The changes are being made as Assistant Superintendent and Committee on Special Education Chair David J. Valois plans to retire at the end of the school year.

The restructuring will see Madill Elementary School Principal Debora Hannan becoming the director of the district’s special education program and middle school Principal Kevin Kendall becoming the director of curriculum instruction and assessment.

Pamela Luckie, currently the assistant high school principal, will become the middle school principal and Paula Scott, the principal at Lincoln and Sherman Elementary Schools, will become the principal at Madill.

Athletic Director Anthony Bjork will continue to work with the school’s athletic program but will be brought onboard as the assistant high school principal.

Additionally the district plans on hiring an assistant principal who will start at Lincoln Elementary School before moving to Kennedy Elementary School when Lincoln closes in the summer of 2014.

Mr. Vernsey said the restructuring will save the district $137,000 with retirement of Mr. Valois, cutting the coordinator of technology position, and an elementary teacher position which will be lost to attrition.

But Mr. Price said the move amounts to raiding the district’s teachers in order to beef up the administration.

Mr. Price noted that in the past five years 58 teaching positions have been lost, largely to attrition, while no administrative positions have been cut.

“If we’re going to lose someone, now is the time,” Mr. Price said, citing Mr. Valois’ retirement. “Losing through attrition is the way to do it.”

“In the last couple years all we’ve heard is we’re going to have to do more with less. That’s not what we’re being shown,” he added.

Mr. Vernsey said with the new common core curriculum and teacher reviews the district can’t function with fewer administrators.

“It’s really just shifting responsibilities,” Mr. Vernsey said of the restructuring. “It’s keeping the same number of administrators.”

Mr. Price said Mr. Vernsey is “dead wrong” about the number of administrators.

Currently Mr. Bjork is a teacher and will be pulled into the administration. With the plan also calling for the hiring of a new assistant principal, Mr. Price said the administration will actually increase from eight to nine administrators next year.

In addition, Mr. Price said, Mr. Kendall, Mrs. Luckie, Mrs. Hannan and Mr. Bjork will all see raises.

The plan equates to “giving four people raises and hiring an extra administrator,” Mr. Price said.

But Mr. Vernsey said, “The overall savings [of $137,000]… doesn’t make any difference where it’s coming from.”

Mr. Vernsey also reminded the Board that there was never any discussion of shrinking the administration.

Mr. Vernsey will present the totality of the administrative restructuring plan at the next Board meeting on May 13.

Mr. Price said, “Our stance is very simple, while we understand that the budget situation requires sacrifice we were under the impression the sacrifice would be shared.”

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