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Ogdensburg City School District seeks new administrator from within

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The Ogdensburg City School District will seeking applicants from within for an open elementary assistant principal position, leaving the head of its teachers union questioning the administration’s motives for increasing its own ranks.

Potential candidates have until May 31 to apply.

Board of Education President Frederick P. Bean said he expects the administration to begin interviews in June so the board can vote on an appointment at the July 1 district organizational meeting.

“They’re only posting it in-house because they’ve got good, quality people in-house,” Mr. Bean said.

David G. Price, president of the Ogdensburg Education Association, said he believes district officials have another motive.

“I believe the plan all along was to hire a teacher, decreasing the teacher union and adding to the administrative union,” he said.

The new hire will see the school’s administration increase from eight members to nine as Athletic Director Anthony Bjork is also brought into the administration to become assistant high school principal.

Assistant Superintendent and Committee on Special Education Chairman David J. Valois is retiring this summer, prompting the reshuffling.

Mr. Price said he is critical of the decision to bring on additional administrators at a time when teachers have been told to do more with less.

“We’re not increasing the number of students. We’re decreasing the number of teachers and the number of buildings. How can you increase the size of the administration?” Mr. Price said.

Mr. Bean said the administration needed another hand on deck to deal with new state requirements and, in order to avoid having to lay off a teacher with the closing of Sherman Elementary School next month, decided to hire internally.

“The goal was to save a job,” he said.

Mr. Price agreed that “the administrators have a lot of work to do and they want help,” but he said teachers are stressed, too.

“The difference is we as teachers can’t sit down in a budget room and find the money to hire a new teacher,” Mr. Price said.

The school’s $36 million budget, passed by voters Tuesday by a vote of 360 to 100, included funding to hire a new administrator, Mr. Bean said.

Even with the hiring of an additional administrator, the administrative reorganization will save the district $137,000, Mr. Bean said. But Mr. Price said the district hasn’t accounted for where those savings are coming from. Superintendent Timothy M. Vernsey could not be reached for comment.

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