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Supt. Mercurio Contemplates Restructuring School Administration

Mercurio looks to add someone who would oversee “teaching, learning and assessment,” as well as to possibly elevate the technology director’s position.

Superintendent Victor Mercurio is evaluating the make up of the administrative jobs directly under him at the ’s central office.

Under a proposal discussed at a meeting Tuesday with the Finance Committee, there would be one position added to the administrative team – a director of teaching, learning and assessment. Mercurio proposed a salary of between $105,000 and $110,000 for the position.

He acknowledged that there was no money in the administration budget for such an addition “unless we reallocate dollars from other parts of the budget.”

Right now, much of the work that Mercurio would assign to this new position is being done by Paula Dillon, the director of student services.

“Paula’s role is to work with diverse student populations. But she has engaged very much in the work of curriculum development,” he said.

Someone in this new position would work with curriculum as well as oversee new state requirements, including a teacher evaluation process and implementation a new student test program (to replace the NECAPS). Additionally, the new position would take charge of professional development for teachers and handle the education end of technology for the district.

One source of possible funds for the position could come by downgrading the student services post to “director of diverse student populations.” Dillon earns $95,000 a year. With a job more specifically targeted to special education, the salary could perhaps be reduced and the savings moved to help fund the new post.

Another area of possible savings could be in the facilities department, which has both a director and a maintenance foreman, for a combined salary of around $120,000. At the meeting Tuesday, it was suggested that some of the duties of the facilities director moved into the director of administration’s job description.

When asked if that meant that a job would be eliminated in the facilities department, Mercurio said, “Right now, we’re just studying everything. There could be a reduction.”

Meanwhile, the technology department, now under the jurisdiction of the director of administration, could come under the direct supervision of the superintendent.

Some at Tuesday’s meeting said they thought a new director of technology should be given a higher-level position, along with a larger salary. Nettik makes about $66,000 a year.

“I think this director of technology position has got to be upgraded,” said Finance Committee member Henry Kates. “That’s a higher spend but I think it’s worth it.”

Again, where the money would come from for such a move was not immediately identified, but there were some ideas proposed at the meeting.

According to Steve Miranda of the finance panel, there may be some savings in the technology budget itself. Miranda worked with Nettik in developing his budget for fiscal year 2012.

In addition, Mercurio noted that there’s a $105,000 line item in the budget for professional development that could be partially funneled to the new position. 

“I think it’s an opportunity for the superintendent to look at everybody’s job and make changes that will benefit the children in the district,” said Bob Durant after the meeting. “We need to maximize the administrative offices so that we are putting the resources where they need to be.”

School Committee Chairwoman Deidre Gifford said Tuesday evening that she had not seen the administrative jobs diagram Mercurio circulated at the Finance Committee meeting earlier in the day.

Mercurio said he unveiled his proposal for the first time at the Tuesday meeting. He said he decided to show the plan to the Finance Committee in advance of the School Committee “because they’ve had experiences firsthand with and know the challenges.”

Mercurio was referring to the department heads and school principals responsible for setting their budgets.

In addition, he said, “It’s nice to have different sets of eyes looking at it.”

“I know that Victor [Mercurio] was going to be thinking about ways that they were going to be re-structuring,” said Gifford. “With Jerry [Nettik] retiring it’s obviously the appropriate time to make sure we have the right structure.”

The move comes one week after the School Committee received formal notice of Jerry Nettik’s plan to retire in June. Nettik is the director of technology.

concerned taxpayer February 24, 2011 at 02:19 PM
I think that Superintendent Mercurio should rethink his position. In this economy where all other places are considering cutbacks he is thinking about adding a position. With the size of the school department that we have in East Greenwich you do not need that many people in administration. It is time to start thinking about consolidating positions.
Fletch February 24, 2011 at 11:41 PM
I agree. EG is such a small school department and in these economic times ... is this really needed? Of course Mercurio wants to hire someone extra. Mercurio needs all the help he can get down there in administration, because he is clueless! I also wonder which one of his friends he will try to appoint to the $105,000 position? Of course Durant is going to be in favor of it. When Mercurio says jump he says jump he says how high and as always he hides behind the satement that it is all for the kids. There are better ways to help the kids than spending more money on an administrative position. If you are really worried about the kids and test scores which dropped under Mercurio's and the past school committee's tenure, then let us start at the top and make some changes in the administration. Although it was a small decrease it still shows that our kids were not improving either.

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