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New London - The Board of Education on Thursday appointed seven staff members to positions in the high school and central office, completing a reorganization prompted by the departure of the assistant superintendent of schools last March.
The reorganization eliminated the assistant superintendent position, as well as the literacy supervisor and the supervisor of instruction and assessment positions.
The appointments of Miriam Morales-Taylor to director of student services and Cherese Chery to chief talent/human resources officer - two new positions - passed in 4-2 votes on Thursday, with members Jason Catala and Elizabeth Garcia Gonzalez voting no. Board member Barbara Major was absent.
Catala said Friday that he had raised concerns over Chery's administrative certification. He said that while she doesn't need to have a certificate to hold her new position, he believes she should.
"If she's going to be hiring staff or recommending principals without any experience with (administrative) certification, I feel that person wouldn't be adequate for that position," Catala said.
He also said that as a board member, he did not feel included in the hiring process, which he said school board policy requires.
"No board member was informed of any hiring committees for both of those hires. The process was flawed," Catala said. "I think they put the cart before the horse and didn't think about including the board in the process. I think they had a plan already in place."
Also on Thursday, the board unanimously approved the appointment of Katherine Ericson as chief academic officer. Ericson served as assistant superintendent on an interim basis until that position was eliminated.
The director of bilingual services position has become director of student services, which is now filled by Morales-Taylor.
Superintendent of Schools Nicholas A. Fischer said Friday that much of the board discussion and public comment around the appointments was about funding.
"We didn't spend nearly what we cut (in the budget) on the appointments," Fischer said Friday.
Four district staff members also were appointed unanimously by the school board Thursday night.
Former literacy supervisor Grace Conti is now the response-to-intervention coordinator; English teacher Deanna Brucoli is now the high school's humanities coordinator; Margaret Bucaram, a former dean at the high school, is now the bilingual coordinator; and Zato Kadambaya is now the high school's science and math coordinator.
The coordinator positions are not considered new because those staff members, with the exception of Kadambaya, already were working in the district. The positions will provide 60 percent administrative time, which the three-year School Improvement Grant will cover, and 40 percent teaching time.
When the grant funds run out in two years, Fischer said, those assignments will revert to full-time teaching positions.
"We cannot afford to make guarantees because the financial backing for this stuff is so uncertain," Fischer said.
"If you compare the total of what we were paying for the assistant superintendent position, the director of bilingual, the supervisor of instruction and assessment, and the literacy supervisor, we have money left over to help cover other staff costs in the district, even with the addition of Miriam and Cherese," he said.