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Salem — As the school year comes to an end, the Board of Education Monday night looked to the future, extending superintendent Joseph Onofrio's contract by another year and discussing filling two new positions.
Board Vice Chairman Dinis Pimentel read a statement expressing board members'support of Onofrio, saying he "supports, honors and carries out board policies" and has proved himself to be a "dedicated mentor" by supporting school administrators and encouraging them to think creatively. Pimentel said board members believe Onofrio will continue to "keep the culture of the school collaborative and healthy."
The statement seemed to refer to recent tensions between the board and parents and within the board itself, saying that "encouragement of community interaction will be a key element of the coming time together" and that "despite it being a difficult year involving community interaction," Onofrio has shown resourcefulness in improving dialogue with the public.
The school board also discussed two new teaching positions.
The first is for an English language arts, math interventionist for kindergarten through eighth grade. This position aims to provide extra support for teachers and students in the areas of English and mathematics, particularly for students struggling with those subjects. It will focus on the subjects getting extra attention in the recently adopted Common Core Standards but, Onofrio said, the new standards are not the driving force behind the creation of the new position.
The second is an instructional technology specialist, who will "enhance the use of technology in the learning process," Onofrio said.
The specialist would spend half the time helping students with technology in a teaching role and half helping faculty and administrators working with school databases and online administrative systems.
The position is part of an effort by the school system to upgrade current information technologies in order to improve network infrastructure. The upgrade will include network and fiber optic cabling and wireless systems. The school will be accepting vendor bids for the upgrades through June 26.