In a budget belt-tightening move, School Superintendent William McKersie has reorganized the Greenwich Public Schools central office, eliminating two key posts—the coordinators for the arts and for physical education and health. Four others will be combined into two positions.
In a memo distributed Jan. 7 to all school personnel, McKersie outlined his vision for managing the school district he assumed control of in July. In December, he was ordered by the Board of Education to come up with a $712,000 cut in the overall proposed 2013-14 school budget that now totals $142 million.
On Friday, Jan. 4, Jeffrey Spector, the district's coordinator for music, art and theater arts was told by McKersie that his job was being eliminated.
"I was very surprised," Spector told Greenwich Patch. "He's eliminated my position totally. It's unfortunate not having a coordinator for the arts in the district."
In his letter outlining "the first phase of reorganization," McKersie has decided:
• The Coordinator of Music, Art, and Theater Arts position will be eliminated
• The Coordinator of Physical Education, Health, and Family Consumer Science position will be eliminated (currently 0.6)
• The Coordinator of Science and Coordinator of Mathematics positions will be combined to create a new position of STEM Coordinator
• The Coordinator of English/Language Arts and Coordinator of Social Studies positions (currently 0.4) will be combined to create a new position of Coordinator of Humanities
"These actions will result in a net reduction of 3.0 administrative positions," McKersie wrote. However, the reduction impacts six individuals. McKersie is now working with the district's and town's human resource departments regarding other non-administrative positions to be eliminated. Because of union contract stipulations, some employees may be eligible to use seniority to assume other posts.
Despite assurances from McKersie personally and in his district-wide letter that Greenwich "The budget has been prioritized to minimize the direct impact in the classroom of any reductions," Spector said he is "worried" there will be an impact."
"I am worried about my program, my teachers, my students," Spector said Tuesday. "We win awards every year and last year, ours was voted the best music education program in the United States."
He added, "Obviously, my teachers are very nervous. They don't know what's going to happen. It's going to be hard for them. I'm the only educational leader in the arts in Greenwich Public Schools." In addition to his management duties, Spector said, "I spend about two days a week in the classroom with teachers and with students."
Spector's responsibilities and those of Colleen Morey, the phys ed/health education coordinator, will be assumed by assistant superintendent Irene Parisi, who was hired last November to lead the district's efforts in bringing digital technology to the classroom. Parisi will have several other responsibilities added to her post as well. (Please see the chart accompanying McKersie's letter in the PDF at right.)
Morey, who retired from full-time employment as the district's coordinator last year, has continued on a part-time basis this year.
Lisa Beth Savitz, president of the Parent Teacher Association Council, said, "I can say that all of the individuals, I have worked with and respect, and I hope that there is a place for them in the district. It would be a loss not to have them." The PTA Council is to meet Friday and will discuss the cuts before issuing a comment, Savitz said.
McKersie also said in his letter, "It is hoped and anticipated that many, if not all, of those currently in the affected positions will have the option of remaining in the school district in a productive capacity."
Spector, who's been the arts coordinator since 2000, said he's unsure whether he will return to teaching "if something is available."