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Music, Phys Ed Coordinators Eliminated by School Superintendent

To reduce the proposed 2013-14 school budget, McKersie eliminates department head positions, consolidates others.

 

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."

Greenwich Taxpayer January 09, 2013 at 11:43 AM
About time there were reductions at Havemyer headquarters. This should just be the beginning of more consolidations. The school system needs to reduce their overhead, just as other Town departments have done and should still be doing.
Harry Dill January 09, 2013 at 11:16 PM
What do coordinators do exactly? Without details it is difficult for many of us to assess the merit or demerit of the cuts. Government bureaucracies are traditionally notorious when it comes to featherbedding, and perhaps school systems are no exception. It could be that coordinators are, in fact, essential. Conversely, they may also be just another layer of unnecessary icing on the cake. I think schools should be the last place to implement austerity measures. Examine the Town Hall and Public Works payrolls before zeroing in on our schools.
p bre January 10, 2013 at 01:23 AM
I am a parent who cares deeply about the arts. I can say personally that Jeffrey Spector has attended each and every orchestra concert or stage performance in which one of my children has performed. I have also actively volunteered as a traveling art docent. Even though the program is run by the PTA, Jeffrey Spector was actively involved and oversaw the program and offered critical input - Traveling Art is always a huge hit with the students..... These kids are starved for more creativity, more artistic expression..... and less standardized testing...... getting rid of this position sends the worst possible message to the community. The arts do matter. My youngest is only in 3rd grade. What artistic programs will still be offered to her? Or will her life be an endless drudgery of practicing for the CMT's? I am devastated by this decision.
JMIMAM January 10, 2013 at 03:02 AM
None of the arts classes or programs were cut. Jeff Spector is wonderful, but if the the system is top heavy, Dr. McKersie is right to make cuts. We brought him in because of his experience and we have to give him leeway to make these tough decisions in hard economic times. Remember there will still be one coordinator who oversees the arts, phys ed, etc. And as a Greenwich teacher, I can honestly say that I've been very impressed by Dr. McKersie and don't see any reason why we can't continue to trust his judgment.
Regina F. January 10, 2013 at 04:58 PM
That doesn't make sense to me. I haven't come to know Dr. McKersie just yet, but... 1) There will NOT be a new coordinator to oversee arts, phys ed, etc. They will probably give the jobs to the assistant superintendent or someone else who is completely overwhelmed and not able to handle the additional responsibilities. It won't get done! 2) Top heavy is having ONE coordinator that manages, leads, directs, oversees, and aligns the department for how many schools? 15? 3) To say that none of the arts classes or programs were cut is technically true, but let's look at the bigger implications here. The arts just lost their advocate! What kind of teachers are going to be hired in the future? Who is going to align and communicate from school to school? Who is going to represent the district program throughout the state and beyond? Who is going to advocate for students' and teachers' needs? Who is going to hold up a stop sign when the cuts move to these areas without representation? It's too bad that phys ed, music, and art are not as important to the district as other subjects. And this coming from a district that will soon be able to reminisce about a time when "ours was voted the best music education program in the United States." Now we have a half time math/science and half time time english/social studies coordinators. What's next? These are clearly the wrong decisions as it affects everyone straight down to the students!

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