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Fri., Sep. 19
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Massena school board abolishes English position

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MASSENA - The Massena Central School Board of Education passed a resolution to abolish a high school English position at the end of the school year, but not with unanimous support.

With the district’s 2013-14 budget proposal still being examined by the district’s Finance Committee, board members Loren Fountaine, Patrick Bronchetti and Patrick Serguson said they couldn’t understand why the action was being taken now and voted against the measure.

“What is the reason for doing this tonight?” Mr. Fountaine wondered.

“We discussed it in executive session,” Superintendent Roger B. Clough II said.

Board President John R. Boyce said the position is currently being filled by a long-term substitute and would have been eliminated at the end of the school year anyway. The person, he said, was covering extra sections of English this year.

“This class is going to continue for the rest of the year,” he said. “We were counseled to do it this way. That’s the advice we’d gotten.”

Board members had initially voted on the resolution to abolish the position without indicating publicly what position was being abolished. Robin Wolpin, a district parent, said during the public comment portion of the meeting she didn’t believe there was enough transparency in the process.

“I feel like it’s very questionable. I don’t know what position it is because you’re vague. We don’t know what position you’re talking about,” she said.

Massena Federation of Teachers President Chad Simpson also shared his concerns.

“Somebody should have been recalled to the position” based on seniority rather than having it filled by a long-term substitute, he suggested. “That’s where I think things are getting shady.”

Finance Committee Chairman Michael J. LeBire also reported during Thursday night’s meeting that the Finance Committee was continuing to examine potential cuts to whittle down a gap of approximately $5 million.

“Right now we’re doing an analysis of the impact of each recommended action,” he said, noting they were looking at its impact on the district, taxpayers and classroom sizes.

“Nothing’s been cut,” Mr. Boyce said. “Everything up to this point has been getting information There’s been nothing so far that 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 are definitely gone.”

“There’s going to be give and take. We’re going to make the best decision we can for everybody,” Mr. LeBire added.

Ms. Wolpin wondered when there would be dialogue with the community on the budget proposal. Mr. Lebire said they have already met with the district’s unions, administrators and directors, and the Finance Committee planned to meet again on Feb. 28 and share the budget planning progress during the March board of education meeting.

However, board members agreed that, rather than a Finance Committee meeting on Feb. 28, they would meet as a board and could publicly discuss where they were on the budget at that point.

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