Having just run for Board of Education trustee, I am dismayed by the way in which administrative reorganizational changes at Haldane are suddenly being presented to the public. The plan to add a new assistant superintendent position in such a hurried manner needs more thought. Several questions come to mind:

Haldane is a tiny district. Superintendents typically oversee multiple elementary, middle and high schools. If other larger districts in our area don’t require an assistant superintendent, why Haldane? It is perplexing enough that the tiny neighboring districts of Haldane and Garrison each bear the burden of paying full salaries for individual superintendents.

Why is the new assistant superintendent position not also being made an interim position like the high school principal position Julia Sniffen is slated to assume? If she is going to be vetted against other candidates when the high school principal job opening is announced, why is Brian Alm not also being vetted for a position that should equally be open to other applicants?

This seems unfair to Ms. Sniffen and a lost opportunity for our district to hire the best candidate for each job. When Dr. Villanti retired, our board embarked on a rigorous search for a new superintendent, and various interest groups from our community were given opportunities to weigh in. Why are we not doing the same for this new assistant superintendent position?

Special education is integral to public education; why is it being lumped in among the multiple other job responsibilities falling to this new assistant superintendent title, diluting the administrative time and attention it both needs and deserves? Historically, Haldane has treated special education as an afterthought in administrative decision making.

Every other district I know of in our area, including GUFS, has a dedicated administrator in charge of special education. Yet as a cost-saving measure, Dr. Villanti chose years ago to combine Haldane’s director of special education position with that of chief information officer, two completely disparate jobs that became a demanding role for anyone to take on.

Is Dr. Bowers continuing this tradition? She is using the salary from the now vacant director of special services/CIO position to fund this new assistant superintendent position. Mr. Alm clearly has many skills and talents as a high school principal, but what significant background, training and experience does he have in special education that qualifies him for this important job responsibility?

As someone who has happily volunteered a great deal of time and energy to support and partner with our school district, I am disheartened by these developments. Sometimes, what initially looks like an easy solution to a problem is not always best for the long run. Rather than simply rearrange existing administrators’ positions, let’s think deeply and carefully about the best ways our district can educate ALL children, including those with learning differences, for years to come.

Koren Riesterer
Cold Spring

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Type: Opinion

Opinion: Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

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