The East Aurora school administration is looking to hire a full-time assistant principal for its elementary and middle schools – largely spurred by the demands of the state’s newly required teacher evaluation system.
But the district’s teachers’ union is sharply critical of the move since budget woes earlier this year forced cutting the equivalent of 8.6 teachers and counselors, and impacted high school programming and class sizes.
The district recently posted the position with a starting salary of $60,000 to $65,000 and is accepting applications through Friday, hoping to have a new administrator in place by early December.
Already, the new post has triggered a backlash from the East Aurora Faculty Association. The union is questioning how the district has money to hire an assistant principal but doesn’t have money to hire back teachers or counselors.
“We should be putting our students first by getting teachers back into the classroom, not putting administrators into buildings,” said Larry Grisanti, union president. “If the money is available to hire an administrator, they have the money to hire teachers.
The East Aurora Faculty Association believes that the district should be rehiring the teachers and counselors cut before it adds administrative staff.”
Superintendent Brian D. Russ said last week that the district has no choice but to hire a new administrator to share between Parkdale Elementary and the Middle School due to the new annual professional performance reviews that are required by the state.
“This decision is really based out of necessity due to the new requirements,” Russ said in an interview. “It didn’t leave us much other choice, unfortunately.”
Still, the union, in a prepared statement, called the decision “a gross misallocation of the district’s scant resources.”
Russ said the evaluation work would not be handled by the district’s new director of curriculum, instruction and personnel, Christine A. Cutler, who also will serve as chief information officer. That position typically would not be involved in the evaluation process, Russ said when asked about it. Cutler starts work in East Aurora today at a $90,000 salary.
Russ defended the need for the new position because of the new evaluation requirements and also noted that the district over the last three to four years has cut 25 percent of its overall administrative positions.
The district’s timing to hire a new administrator comes as its high school students face larger class sizes, fewer academic choices and less contact with their teachers, the union said.
Board member Jessica B. Armbrust said she feels for the teachers but understands the district has no choice but to hire an additional administrator to help handle the evaluation workload.
“I wish this wasn’t where we had to be spending our money,” she said. “We’re trying to make the best of a situation we’ve been put into. It’s distressing. The fact it’s hitting the teachers so personally makes it that much more difficult.”