Mt. View avoids ‘blow up,’ hires teacher

BY TOM FONTANA
Correspondent

Mountain View school board members heeded the advice, and warning, of high school principal Robert Presley and hired an eighth grade English teacher when they met Tuesday night (Aug. 13).

At a board meeting the night before, Presley predicted a ‘blow up’ of the fall class schedule if the board failed to hire the English teacher.

“This is going to have a huge impact on our students,” he informed the board Aug. 12. “English electives will have to be eliminated so our current teachers can cover the classes left open by not hiring a teacher. Not doing this just two weeks before school starts is going to cause a huge blow-up in the class schedules.”

He predicted “tons of kids” will end up in study halls until class schedules could be adjusted.

Board directors Dava Rhinehart-Cowan and Roy Twining objected to the hiring based on a projected $1.4 million deficit for the 2013-14 school year, and not having seen the scheduling conflicts on paper that Presley predicted.

Presley told them he could present the full class schedule immediately.

Board president Elwood Williams suggested tabling the discussion, and asked Presley to produce the schedules at an executive session Tuesday night, to be followed by a public meeting.

The executive session was held, and at the public meeting Williams quickly presented the agenda item for a motion on the hiring. The board then unanimously appointed Mary Beth Langdon, Scranton, at a salary of $38,927. In addition to teaching eighth-grade English, she will also teach a section of ninth-grade English.

“Thank you for understanding,” Presley told the board, “and for listening to me.”

After the meeting, Presley said that seeing the schedule persuaded the board to hire the teacher.

“I gave them the current completed schedule,” he said, “and an alternate schedule based on not hiring the teacher.”

Presley said electives that would have been eliminated without the extra staffing included Culture Shock, Latin I, and Public Speaking. These electives will continue to be offered, but Theater Arts and Creative Writing will not. Presley explained that Theater Arts is only offered every other year, and this upcoming school year it was set to be on the schedule, but will not be included because of staffing issues.

“The situation with the board was just a matter of miscommunication,” Presley concluded. “They just needed to see the full schedule.”

Twining said after the meeting he changed his mind about hiring the teacher after reviewing the class schedule.

“It was obviously full,” he explained. “The classes were full, and there was no room for any free time for teachers.

During the public comment period at the meeting the night before, Barbara Kelly of Lenox Twp. suggested names of potential hires not appear on meeting agendas in advance of the meetings, as it was in Langdon’s case.

“Revealing names, addresses and salaries of candidates before they’re actually hired by the district is an embarrassmentif they’re not hired,” Kelly stated. “It would give more class to the board and the person being considered if there is a blank for the name on the agenda until the board goes forward with a decision.”