New London - After debating leaving the district's assistant superintendent position unfilled, the Board of Education on Thursday voted 4-3 to appoint Katherine Ericson, the supervisor of curriculum and instruction, as the district's interim assistant superintendent.
Board members Jason Catala, Delanna Muse and Liz Garcia Gonzalez voted against the move. Last month, when the board weighed filling the position at all, Catala, Muse and Garcia Gonzalez were also opposed.
Former Assistant Superintendent Christine Carver left the district May 1 for a position with the Newington school system.
School board members had previously debated having other central office staff members, including the superintendent, fulfill the job duties of Carver's old job. As part of its discussions, the board has also weighed the hiring of a human resources director to lighten the load of the assistant superintendent.
A personnel and legal committee meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on May 24 to discuss the human resources position.
Prior to the board's vote, James Mitchell, former Groton superintendent and one of three people assigned by the state to oversee New London's school board operations, reminded the board why keeping the position was so important.
"The district improvement plan, which is the board's primary focus, has been chaired by the assistant superintendent. Without someone to do that, that will be a major drop," Mitchell said.
Superintendent of Schools Nicholas A. Fischer said a large part of the assistant superintendent's position is working over the summer on the district improvement plan as well as on special education issues, curriculum development and grievances and human resource issues.
"These tasks are continuous throughout the year. Summer is an intense time where we really get behind, because other people don't work during the summer," Fischer said. "The only person who is here full-time in that particular area, other than me, is the assistant superintendent."
Catala said the superintendent should be able to take on many of the assistant superintendent's daily tasks.
"Dr. Fischer can take on more responsibilities. I'm opposed to the idea of hiring someone when we could not fill that position and save some of the jobs lower on the totem pole," he said.
The school board also voted to approve Lawrence Washington as the new assistant principal of New London High School. Washington, one of the school's two deans, will replace Mark Svencer, who is retiring at the end of the school year.
The school board plans to eventually do away with the two dean positions at the school and instead hire a second assistant principal. Dean Margaret Bucaram is serving as the interim assistant principal.