Mountain View board urged to hire teacher

BY TOM FONTANA
Correspondent

Mt. View school board removed consideration of hiring of a high school English teacher from its agenda Monday night, Aug. 12, prompting a stern reaction from high school principal Robert Presley.

“This is going to have a huge impact on our high school students,” he warned. “English electives will have to be eliminated so our current teachers can cover the classes left open by not hiring a teacher. Doing this just two weeks before school starts is going to cause a huge blow-up in the class schedules.”

He said on the first day of school, students will have to be put in study halls instead of scheduled classes until he can figure out how to rearrange class schedules. Among the electives he listed that would be eliminated are journalism, public speaking and Latin.

“Everybody talks about trying to improve our school,” he fumed, “but instead we’re going to have to put tons of kids in study halls instead of classrooms with teachers!”

“Put yourself in our position as school directors,” board member DavaRhinehart-Cowan shot back. “I understand this will make scheduling difficult, but the district is facing a $1.4 million deficit this year. We can’t just keep hiring more teachers at high salaries. You’ll just need to figure out the scheduling.”

The meeting agenda listed the board’s intention to consider the appointment of Mary Beth Langdon of Scranton that evening as a K-12 English teacher at a salary of $38,927.

Langdon was in attendance at the meeting, and suddenly left the room for a short time during the hiring discussion, but later returned.

Director Roy Twining was adamant about not hiring another teacher. “I don’t have a clue about the need for another teacher,” he told Presley. “I will not support another teacher until I see a class schedule. I need to see the whole picture.”

Presley said he was never asked by any board member to see the fall schedule of classes, and could produce one immediately. “They’re printed out and sitting on my desk,” he said.

Board president Elwood Williams stated he was ‘leaning toward’ hiring another English teacher.

“We need to think of what’s best for our students,” he said. “I agree that new teacher salaries are high, but should we hire by salary or qualifications?”

The board decided to table the discussion until the next night (Tuesday, Aug. 13), with an executive session at 6 p.m. to examine the fall class schedule, and then continue the Monday night public meeting at 7 p.m. to consider further action on hiring a teacher.

The board also heard a dispute over its approval of the transfer of a wheelchair van contract from driver Kristen Canfield of South Gibson to her son, Wayne Williams.

Another contract driver at the meeting questioned whether a contract can be transferred from one driver to another without the contract being ‘offered out’ first to the public. The driver suggested if the board allowed this it would be a change of policy and set a new precedent for handling driver contracts in the future.

District business manager Joseph Patchcoski explained that the board approved Williams as a driver at a previous meeting to help him make the decision and have time to purchase an upgraded wheelchair-accessible van as required by law.

“Because the board approved him as a driver,” Patchoski explained, “he went ahead and bought the van. He probably won’t be too happy now if the board changes its decision.”

The board decided to approve Williams’ contract (and all car/van contracts for the 2013-14 school year), and seek a legal opinion from the district’s lawyer concerning the transfer of driver contracts.

In other business, the board:

*Approved the purchase of an electronic piano with a $2,500 grant, and the loan at no charge of three additional pianos from Robert M Sides Music to start a piano class;

*Heard an overview of the elementary school computer curriculum for the 2013-14 school year from teacher Kathy McHenry, for consideration for approval by the board at its next meeting;

*Was presented a five-year summary of Advanced Placement class scores by curriculum coordinator Karen Voigt, showing that for the first time in 10 years, Mt. View scored above average in several areas;

*Awarded the contract for Bus Route 13 (Nicholson, former driver John Corbin) to Gerald Burgess;

*Was informed by Presley that lunch periods for the 2013-14 school year will be cut to 30 minutes, resulting in longer class periods.