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Numerous resignations draw attention of S-K School Board

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For the Keizertimes

A number of resignations and retirements at Keizer schools and the district at large sparked concern from members of the Salem-Keizer School Board and audience members at the board meeting Tuesday, July 15.

Board Member Nancy MacMorris-Adix expressed concern at the numbers of resignations. Assistant Superintendent Ken Parshall noted that many districts were hiring and that many Salem-Keizer teachers had been commuting.

Late in the meeting, several audience members had other ideas about teacher resignations. A long succession of them spoke against the Common Core program of uniform teacher standards. Most complaints were that it was “one-size fits all,” and some said that many teachers disliked it but were concerned that letting administrators know their opposition would endanger their jobs.

Resignations and retirements at Keizer schools included:

• Resignations of Samantha Ragaisis, principal at Weddle; Bonnie Gallagher, orchestra teacher at Whiteaker; Sibyl Felts, instructional coach at Weddle and Kennedy; and Damian Berdakin, orchestra teacher at McNary.

• Retirement of Linda Baker, English teacher at McNary.

Rick Kimball was elected chairperson of the Salem-Keizer School Board and  MacMorris-Adix vice president during the meeting.

It was the first regular board meeting of the 2014-15 school year. Both Kimball, who succeeds Jim Green, and MacMorris-Adix, who succeeds Chuck Lee, have held their respective board leadership positions previously. It was also the first such meeting for Superintendent Christy Perry.

Personnel actions approved by the board included the hiring of six administrators, including Wendy Roberts as principal of Weddle Elementary School. Roberts started her career as a bilingual teacher at Kennedy Elementary School and later was a literacy teacher and instructional coach at the former Lake Labish Elementary School.

Also approved by the board was the collective bargaining agreement between the district and the Association of Salem-Keizer Educational Support Professionals. It includes a 2 percent increase in the current salary schedule for 2014-15 with a reopener for 2015-16, a $25 increase in the employer-paid portion of the monthly insurance premium with a reopener for the next school year, and a one-time $367,517 allocation to the entire classified employee bargaining unit.

The board, with Green absent, voted 5-1 to ratify the agreement. Jeff Faville, who voted no, said the insurance premium “seemed a little random.” He had just asked Parshall for the total cost for the monthly premium, and Parshall had said the figure was not immediately available.

Before the vote, Tim Farness of Salem said from the audience that board members should be involved in negotiations with the classified employees. He said board members of many districts in Oregon are.

The board heard first reading of a proposed agreement by which Marion County would widen Cordon Road at its intersection with Carolina Avenue. The project is intended to help clear traffic from the through lanes to increase road capacity and reduce the potential for accidents.

The county would pay the district $10,521 for a right-of-way easement of a rectangular strip of land at the northeast corner of the property, a permanent easement for drainage that abuts the west edge of the proposed right of way, and a permanent easement to provide slopes for any new sidewalk or roadway.

Also approved by the board was a $100,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Education for the American Indian/Alaskan Native Culturally Relevant Teaching, Learning and Pedagogy Grant Indian Education Program.

Personnel actions, not involving administrators, approved by the board for the McNary High School attendance area included hirings of:

• Kevan Hanson, English teacher, Whiteaker Middle School, as a less than half-time teacher.

• Laura Mangum-Childers, behavior specialist at Kennedy, and Joseph Zehr, English teacher at Claggett Creek Middle School, as temporary part-time teachers.

• Maria Neads, second-grade teacher, English for speakers of other languages, at Kennedy, as a temporary full-time teacher.

• Jill Turner-Whitney, kindergarten ESOL teacher at Kennedy, as a first-year probation part-time teacher.

• Ryan Kirch, business education teacher at McNary; Sarah Whitfield, first-grade ESOL teacher at Keizer Elementary School; Sarah Greco, third-grade ESOL teacher at Kennedy; Peter Rundquist, general music teacher at Gubser Elementary School; and Kimberly Hartman, third grade ESOL teacher at Cummings Elementary School, as first-year probation full-time teachers.