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A message from the Watkins teachers to the School Board

(The following letter, dated June 21, 2013, from the Watkins Glen Faculty Association to the Superintendent and School Board expresses "shock and anger" over the Board's approval earlier in the week of a new administrative position in the school district.)

Dear Watkins Glen Superintendent Thomas J. Phillips, Board of Education President Brian O'Donnell and Members of the Board of Education:

On behalf of the members of the Watkins Glen Faculty Association, I must inform you of our collective sense of shock and anger in response to the information delivered at yesterday's District Meeting. Many left the meeting feeling burdened with even more to digest, beyond the physical and psychological stress of the newly started building project and transition. Many also left the meeting questioning the vision of our District's leaders, who chose to invest in administrative oversight rather than the needs of our children and the community we serve.

I hope you can appreciate the Faculty Association's perspective. The District has reduced instructional and support staff by 39.5 positions – either through attrition or position cuts – in the past three years. Our Association was threatened with additional cuts of 10 to 12 educators this year were it not for a fiscally conservative labor agreement to switch health care plans, which provided the District with hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings. Add restored state aid to the additional savings yielded from some fortuitous retirements and the District realized a financial cushion, a foreign concept in these recent years of economic austerity. Hopefully you can understand our chagrin when the administration decided to invest this windfall in the creation of a new administrative position.

Part of the rationale given for the extra position is the vast quantity of data which needs to be gathered, analyzed, crunched and regurgitated for the State. At least on that, Association members have some empathy. We, too, are burdened with evermore random, seemingly pointless paperwork that interferes with our ability to actually interact with the students we are so proud to serve. We get it. However, our vision is to focus our community's financial investments in education to better serve our core mission. We are here to educate students and feed young minds, not mind the students and feed the bureaucracy that surrounds education.

If there's money to create a new administrative position, why are we losing the After School Program that serves so many families in our community? Why are we losing our Special Education Guidance Counselor position? What about restoring a Reading Teacher in the Junior or Senior High School? The Watkins Glen Faculty Association firmly believes that the money spent on one new administrative position would be far more justifiably – and wisely – applied to any number of uses that would directly and beneficially impact our students and their achievement.

Thank you for your time.

Kathryn E. Bartholomew, President
Liam F. O’Kane, Vice President
Watkins Glen Faculty Association



© The Odessa File 2013
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869