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Palisades School Board discusses elementary issues

By Kris Rile, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Dec 19 2012 10:53:14 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 20 2012 06:09:09 AM CST

The Palisades School District has a unique configuration regarding the administrative staff and counseling staff at its three elementary schools: Springfield, Durham Nockamixon, and Tinicum.

Currently, Springfield Elementary and Durham Elementary have a full-time administrator at each building and both administrators share responsibility of Tinicum Elementary.

Each building has a full-time administrative support team and guidance counselor. However, the three buildings do not have any full-time reading specialists or Instructional Support Teachers--each position at the elementary schools is currently filled by a part-time staff member.

According to Superintendent Bridget O’Connell, there are several successes for having so many shared positions throughout the elementary buildings.

“Our elementary team is moving together,” commented O’Connell.

Although she mentioned some successes in a brief presentation given to the board and audience members, O’Connell did point out that there are also several challenges to having shared positions, including Individualized Education Programs and scheduling.

The District has to now reconfigure its elementary administrative situation because of a recent resignation from a full-time guidance counselor at Durham Nockamixon Elementary School.

O’Connell presented the Board with three options to deal with this resignation. The first option is keep the status quo and replace the guidance counselor with another full-time counselor. The second option is to keep the status quo but not hire a replacement, and the third option is to not replace the counselor but make administrative adjustments. O’Connell has recommended pursuing the third option to the Board during her presentation.

The changes to the elementary configuration will include adding a full-time administrator to elementary staff that way each building will have their own full-time administrator. The District Office Administrator’s will provide all administrative staff for the three buildings. The most significant changes will be that each building will now only have a part-time counselor as well as part-time reading specialists and Instructional Support Teachers.

According to O’Connell, the first option and the third option have no impact on the current budget or the 2012-2013 budget while the second option will lead to a budget reduction for next year’s budget.

Concerned parents in the audience expressed their issues with O’Connell and the Board at the meeting. The main concerns by the parents were consistency among staff members and the potential consequences of not having a guidance counselor present at each building for the duration of a full school day.

“If there is a dire crisis situation, we can mobilize our counseling team quickly,” said O’Connell.

“I don’t want the misconception spread that our kids are not support, are not cared for, or are not loved,” she continued.

The Board will continue to work on this configuration through January and February. O’Connell expressed that she is available to the public to answer questions and address any concerns at the administration building on December 27th and 28th as well as being available during each day that school is in session.