Mt. View principal makes pitch for backup
BY TOM FONTANA
Mountain View High School principal Robert Presley has asked the school board to hire an assistant principal.
Presley presented a budget for the 2013-14 school year at the board meeting Monday night, April 22, which included a request for the hiring of a full-time reading specialist and an assistant principal.
“The current situation is just not conducive,” he told the board. “I have upward of 500 (discipline) referrals that can take anywhere from 10 minutes to four hours to deal with. Investigations of situations eat up most of my days, which means other things are slipping by.”
The position of an assistant principal at the high school was eliminated a few years ago by the board as a budget-cutting measure.
Presley’s examples of some things ‘slipping by’ included action on dress code and cell phone use violations, and checking student vehicles in the parking lot for proper tags. In addition, he cited discussions with students and parents, grounds keeping concerns, and facility inspections as time consuming.
“I’m supposed to be an instructional leader,” he stated to the board. “What you now have is a manager who puts out fires. I’m never getting out to do what I should be doing. The first things to go have been observations of classrooms and teacher evaluations.”
Presley said before compiling his budget requests he met with teachers at the school to get their input.
“The first thing they all agreed on is that I need an assistant,” he said. “The teachers feel there’s a lot of pressure on them filling in for the lack of administration monitoring the halls.”
Presley also requested the board hire a full-time reading specialist. Connie Shulte, currently a part-time reading teacher, is retiring at the end of this school year.
“We need a full-time reading specialist to really be effective,” Presley explained. “Reading affects everything, including scores on mandated testing, such as PSSA. If we don’t have a reading teacher, I’ll have to pull English teachers from their regular classroom work to cover reading.”
In his proposed budget figures for the coming school year, Presley cited increases in athletic department expenses over the current school year for physician services, transportation and equipment.
“Doctor fees and fuel costs have increased,” he told the board. “Under equipment, I include golf course rental, replacement of the volleyball standards, and teams due for new uniforms under the rotation process.”
Presley’s projected athletics total for the 2013-14 school is $89,330. His projected administrative budget for the high school is $1,109,881, an increase of $52,694 over the current school year budget. Some of those increases are due to the need for a new Life Sciences text book (approximately $9,000), a proposed electric piano for the music department ($17,000), supplies for a new advanced placement chemistry class ($2,000), and fees and transportation for chorus and band competitions.
“This school year, you hired a band teacher and a chorus teacher,” Presley stated to the board, “both of whom are very into having their students participate in local, district and state competitions, which I fully support.”
Elementary school principal Andrew Doster also presented a budget for the 2013-14 school year, with a projected total of $228, 602, an increase of $4,933 over the current year budget. He told the board the increase is mostly due to projected transportation costs for the annual sixth-grade trip to Washington D.C., and a $2,000 increase in the cost of paper.
Doster also offered four options for staffing changes due to eight upcoming retirements and one resignation. Each of his suggestions included some transfers from other positions and the hiring of new staff. His ‘Option A’ proposal involves the hiring of 10 new staff members, including a full-time librarian. His other three options listed fewer new staff and more transfers from other positions.
The board has scheduled a special budget meeting for Monday, May 6.
The board also heard a presentation by Jim Soya and Matt Georgetti of the district’s Information Technology Dept. The technicians offered a comparison of the current Skyward system with another system by Saphire I.T. Business Solutions. Soya and Georgetti recommended that the board consider switching to Saphire, one of four alternate computer interfaces they investigated. They stressed the superiority of Saphire over Skyward, especially in terms of reliability, accuracy and access to technical support.
“The number of support calls needed for the use of Skyward has not been going down over the last five years,” Soya told the board. “We’ve averaged between 140 to 170 calls each year.”
“Five years ago, Skyward was presented to us as the best thing since sliced bread,” board director Roy Twining. “Well, Skyward was never the best thing since sliced bread.”
“The Skyward system is very, very cumbersome,” agreed elementary school principal Doster.
The board indicated it would further investigate an alternate computer information system for the district.
In other business, the board appointed Allison Martino as a K-12 guidance counselor.
It also voted to post and advertise for an athletic director and fall sports coaches for the 2013-14 school year.