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Waltham School Chief Proposes Major Administrative Changes

Changes not yet approved.

Waltham Public Schools Superintendent has proposed a major reorganization of the district’s administrative management.

Nicholson, during the Wednesday, March 7 School Committee meeting, presented her plan to a packed room of teachers

School Committee members expressed a few concerns, but did not approve the plan. The committee asked several questions for additional information and plan to discuss the plan at a future meeting. The district's next annual budget, scheduled to be unveiled on Wednesday, March 21, will include the proposed plans costs.

Overall, the plan would merge existing positions, eliminate and create others to improve the district’s management and help students improve their learning. Savings from some of the changes would pay for the creation of new positions, according to Nicholson, but overall, the plan would cost the district $200,000. That figure could end up lower eventually as many of the changes need to be bargained with various unions.

“I believe that what I am proposing makes sense and addresses some of the needs I presented ,” Nicholson said. “This proposal is not a reflection on anyone working in the district.”

CHANGES IN EXISTING POSITIONS

  • The plan calls for the current curriculum directors for history/social studies, math/science to now oversee the curriculum for grades 6-12, instead of the entire range of grades. Each director would have some teaching responsibilities at the high school or middle schools.
  • The plan would also make the current English Language Arts/Drama Curriculum director for the entire district into just an ELA director for grades 6-12. The director would also assume teaching responsibilities.
  • Once any of the director’s positions became vacant, all of them would be converted to “coordinators” making $75,000 annually and not have teaching duties.
  • Reason for changes: Nicholson said she wants to reduce the responsibilities for the directors and make them only oversee grades 6-12. She said she also wants one person to oversee the curriculum for the elementary school grades, in this case, Paul Maiorano, who currently serves the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
  • The current assistant director of student support services, a post of less than 40 hours per week, should be increased to full-time, according to Nicholson. It would cost $6,000. Reason for change: better coordination, according to Nicholson.
  • The current director of fine arts would begin supervising  the drama program at no additional cost. Reason: Nicholson did not get specific other than to say it “makes sense.”
  • The number of evaluation team leaders would be reduced from 11 to 10, and their work year would increase to 190 days. The moves would not save any money. They would also become “coordinators” and be deemed administrative staff. The new coordinators would be paid $75,000 while their responsibilities would include creating individual education plans, assessments of students and evaluations of teachers.

NEW POSITIONS

  • A new coordinator for World Languages position with a $75,000 salary would be created. Employee would work 190 days oversee grades 6-12.
  • A new coordinator for ELL (English Langauge Learner) overseeing grades 6-12 would also be created. Employee would work 190 days and make $75,000 annually. Reason: one person should be overseeing data colllection for ELL.
  • A new human resources officer making $100,00 annually would be created. Reason: The employee would handle updates to labor law, personnel and payroll issues.
  • Also, a new Administrator of Special Education/Student Support Services would be created, earning $126,000. Employee would work 12 months. Reason: A boost in salary would help keep the job filled. “,” Nicholson said.
  • A new administrator of Technology coordinator would be created for $110,000, and work 12 months.
  • A Grant Manager job for $80,000 annually would be created as well.
  • Lastly, an accountability officer earning $80,000 annually would be added to the payroll. Reason: Employee would handle reporting of data to state and federal agencies, something the district has struggled with recently, according to Nicholson. Currently, 16 people submit data to higher agencies, she said.

ELIMINATED POSITIONS

  • Under the plan, the director of instructional technology post would be eliminated, saving $96,053. Reason: Nicholson said that years ago the director position was separated from the computer network manager’s job and caused problems. She said the district needs one person to oversee both sets of responsibilities.
  • The Director of Student Support services, which oversees the entire district, would also be axed, saving $93,354. Reason: Currently, 23 district employees have grant-writing duties, which often causes miscommunication when apply for funding, Nicholson said.
  • Lastly, the curriculum director for the World Languages/ELL program would be eliminated, saving $91,026. Reason: the duties of this position, Nicholson said, should be separated into two positions.

Committee’s Concerns

  • Committee member said he was worried with the workload Maiorano would have. “You're asking him to be the curriculum director for all of elementary,” Graceffa said. “I think that that is a lot.”
  • Graceffa also said it may be difficult to find somebody who would both oversee the school’s computer network and be the instructional technology coordinator.
  • Committee member Susan Burstein, saying the plan was a “tremendous first step,” expressed concern that the plan might hinder efforts to find a permanent special education director.

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