Pomeroy works on school administration structure change

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POMEROY — The Pomeroy School Board is considering eliminating one administrative position in the district.

Under the proposed plan, a single administrator would serve as superintendent for the district, as well as principal of the elementary and high schools.

Each school would also have a lead teacher serving half-time in that position, and half-time as a regular classroom teacher.

Although the new structure has not been voted on by the school board, the district is beginning the hiring process for a new administrator to replace Superintendent Kim Spacek, who has announced plans to retire.

The position is being advertised as a superintendent and K-12 principal administrative position. Applications will be due April 12, and interviews conducted the following week.

School Board Chair Bart Gingerich said the board likely will take action to approve the new administrative structure once it hires someone to fill the position.

The proposed change is an attempt to save money in response to declining enrollment in the district, though Gingerich said it has also been developed in response to teacher feedback.

The district, which downsized from three to two administrators two years ago, has seen enrollments fall by 55 students since 2007 to the current total of 309. Losing those students has cost Pomeroy approximately $250,000 in state funds, and Gingerich said downsizing the administration is an attempt to be proactive about a likely loss of future funds.

“Our concern is if we continue to lose students, we would like to maintain staff,” he said.

If implemented, the change is projected to save the district between $14,000 and $30,000, depending on the expertise of the lead teachers who are hired. Most of the cost savings would come from not having to pay for a second package of administrator benefits. The combined salaries of two half-time lead teachers are also projected to be lower than the salary of a full-time administrator.

Gingerich said the changes were proposed after talking to teachers who expressed a desire to have an intermediate position between regular teachers and the superintendent. Currently Spacek also serves as elementary principal, and personnel issues or concerns from the elementary staff have to be taken directly to him.

Under the new plan, lead teachers would serve as advocates for their schools and report to the superintendent, giving teachers and students another person to whom they can voice concerns.

Several community members have raised concerns about the proposed structure. Mayor Paul Miller, who worked as high school principal for seven years, said he’s opposed to the change because he feels the cost savings will be relatively minor compared to the benefits of keeping a second administrator.

Former Mayor Donna McGee agreed that keeping two administrators would work better in a district the size of Pomeroy’s.

“We are not that small of a school,” she said. “I think it’s worth the $14,000 to have two administrators.”

Other similarly sized school districts in the area generally have somewhere between one and two administrator positions.

Prescott School District, which has an enrollment of 348, has a half-time superintendent and a full time K-12 principal.

Touchet, enrollment 226, and Waitsburg, enrollment 287, both have two full-time administrators, though one of the administrators from each district also works on special education part time.

McGee said she was also concerned about having one person responsible for the entire administration of the district.

“Giving all that power to one person is not good,” she said.

Community member Ed Fruh said he felt the school board has already decided to approve the change without consulting community members.

“They’ve made their mind up,” he said.

Spacek declined to give an opinion on the proposed changes because he will not be working in the district next year, but said he supports the board in pursuing whatever plan it believes is in the district’s best interests.

Gingerich stressed that the proposal has been developed after consulting with teachers and said that overall, community members support the plan.

“Any time there’s a change, there’s going to be some resistance,” he said.

Upcoming school board meetings are scheduled for April 10 at 7 p.m. and April 25 at 7:30 p.m. in elementary school room 109. There will be opportunites for public comment.

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