OSWEGO — The Oswego City School District (OCSD) has approved the creation of two new program director positions and an assistant business director position to provide relief to a staff that is stretched thin because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases and quarantines.
These positions will supplement the work carried out by other employees whose jobs have consolidated several duties into one title in the last few years, OCSD Superintendent Mathis Calvin III said at a prior OCSD Board of Education meeting.
Both positions would focus on professional and instructional development across the district for the two subjects, while also aligning the respective curriculum to fulfill district goals.
“I have been here for a little while and I have been able to assess what is happening in the district and assess how the day-to-day operations are going,” Calvin said. “One of the things we have come to understand is that several years ago, due to budget implications, there have been some cutbacks to positions. Because of those financial decisions, we tried to combine positions to try and make it through those challenging periods.”
The consolidation of said positions — which Calvin noted has resulted in educational programming executives taking on 40-to-50 different tasks as part of their job duties — has taken their toll in learning performance for students, Calvin said.
“When we look at our performance in English language arts and math and we look at how students are doing — especially with the gaps in instruction caused by the pandemic — what is really clear to us is that we need a lot of extra help to attain some of those goals we have as a district,” he said.
Salaries for the two new positions would start at $93,400, Calvin said, referencing the district’s agreement with the local bargaining unit of the Association of Assistant Principals union.
Carrie Plasse, the district’s executive director of elementary education and accountability, would help OCSD focus on its current learning initiatives.
“Math truly needs to come to the front,” Plasse said. “I work with a great team, but it needs more steering, more time (to operate). We cannot put more on the principals’ plates to help with that steering because their plates are full.”
The district also approved the creation of assistant director of business administration, which would help OCSD’s business office work on day-to-day operations and budget oversight. The salary for the assistant director of business administration position would range between $75,000 and $80,000.
“Day-to-day financial reporting has continued to increase, and COVID-19 has just exacerbated the daily operations for business officials,” Calvin said regarding the need for the positions. He highlighted the growth of duties during the pandemic such as managing expenses on transportation, food service, buildings and grounds, security, and grant writing.
These administrative positions were approved by a vote of 5-1, with board member James McKenzie dissenting. McKenzie noted he would like to see a more gradual approach to addressing staffing, citing concerns about a hit to next year’s budget of approximately $300,000 to pay for the administrative positions.
“I’m just concerned that other options haven’t been presented that might be worth considering. Being a teacher and administrator, I do believe that to effect change in student success is to put the resources as close as possible,” McKenzie said. “We do need the administrative team that can support, absolutely. But if I am looking to invest additional resources, I’d lean more toward teachers on special assignments which are easier to redact from budgets than administrative positions.”