June School Board Meeting Gets Heated Over Contracts

During last month’s school board meeting things got a little heated over the re-hiring of retired principals.

School board member Thomas Mulligan introduced the motion to rehire John Curtis, recently retired Regional Vocational Aquaculture School Principal, for the position of Assistant Superintendent of High Schools at a rate 47% less than his current salary.  The position of Assistant Superintendent of High Schools was one of the nine cabinet positions eliminated during the past year. However, according to Superintendent Vallas, the position is again needed in order for the district to be eligible for certain state and federal magnet school grants. These grants require a coordinator, which is a position Curtis has already been filling in for throughout the past year. According to Vallas, Curtis was instrumental in setting up the district’s four new magnet high schools.

This proposal was met with resistance from Sauda Baraka and Maria Pereira, both school board members aligned with the Working Families Party. Baraka and Pereira saw the measure as a form of “double dipping,” and Pereira expressed that she “would like to see money go into positions that directly impact students” rather than more administrative staff.

The measure passed, but another motion was introduced which would extend the offer given to Principal Curtis to other eligible administrators.  The package offers 47% salary plus a $15,000 voluntary retirement bonus. The plan proposed by Vallas would offer this incentive to all eligible administrators – six are currently up for retirement. This should save the school district a total of $57,000 per position, which Vallas estimates will save the district $300k-$350k a year.

This measure also passed, but not without the same resistance from Working Family Party members over the merits of the proposed plan.


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