November 27, 2014

Mio AuSable superintendent to take on elementary principal duties

Jeff Patrus
Mio AuSable Schools Superintendent Gary Wood presents an overview of the district's financial situation to the Mio AuSable Board of Education at the board's June 13 meeting.
By Jeff Patrus
Staff Writer | news@oscodaherald.com
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MIO — Faced with a $925,000 deficit for the 2011-12 school year, the Mio AuSable Schools Board of Education has made a series of staff changes, including Mio AuSable Superintendent Gary Wood serving as the elementary principal next year.

At its June 13 regular meeting, the board approved the layoff of current elementary school principal Teresa Cole and the assignment of Wood to handle those duties. Wood said that Cole, who is the district’s Title I director, will remain in that capacity next year, and will also serve as a Title I teacher next year. In addition, Wood said Cole is scheduled to devote one hour per day to school improvement duties in the district.

In addition to the reorganization of the elementary principal duties for next year, the board approved a resolution to eliminate three paraprofessionals, two bus drivers, and one secretary, as well as to reduce the hours of two paraprofessionals by 3.5 hours per day.

Those employees who will be laid off are Robin Welser, Sharon Sieting, Sharon Alwardt, Holly Schroeder, and Steve Harmon. In addition, elementary school secretary Jackie Kaufman is retiring from the district, and central office staff employees are expected to fill those duties next year, Wood said. According to Wood, the staffing decisions would save the district approximately $346,000 for the 2011-12 school year. Wood said the board is scheduled to have a special budget hearing at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 20, in the Mio AuSable auditorium, at which time they are expected to approve a final budget for the 2010-11 school year and a preliminary budget for the 2011-12 school year.

Wood said that Terry Gillette, currently the district's Youth Services Director, would handle discipline issues for grades K-8 next year. He added that members of the district’s central office staff would handle office duties at the elementary school next year.

Cole addressed her situation during the June 13 meeting.

“It was demanding, but refreshing,” she said of her four years as the elementary school principal. “I look forward to my next challenge.”

According to Wood, he will not be taking on any additional salary for handling the elementary principal duties. Wood acknowledged that it would be a challenge to balance his duties as superintendent with the elementary principal’s position.

“It’s going to be very difficult,” he said. “I’m concerned about that.”

Wood said he has already met with the elementary school teaching staff about the situation, and he said that many staff members have expressed a willingness to help in any way possible to make the situation easier.

“I think they’re motivated and excited about the challenge,” he said.

Board of Education President Paul Call said the decisions were not easy ones for the board to make.

“We're doing this too much," he said. "We have to find a way to make an impact in Lansing.”

Wood said if the district’s state aid funding situation does not improve, then there may be more staff cuts in the future.

“There is a chance we’ll have to lay off staff next spring,” he said. “The cuts that were made were not made due to the performance of any one individual. It’s caused us to take a hard look at how our teaching staff is used.”

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