After debate, Pleasant Valley posts several positions
Pleasant Valley School District’s board of directors voted to post several positions Thursday night including a special education transition coordinator, special education supervisor, two guidance counselors and a math coach.
While the special education jobs passed unanimously, the other three positions drew lengthy debate, leading to a 6-3 affirmative vote.
According to Thursday’s discussion, A.J. Kise, Pleasant Valley’s director of pupil services, originally requested two guidance counselors and an additional school psychologist, but later dropped the request down to one guidance counselor assigned to Pleasant Valley Elementary.
Despite the request, Director Donna Yozwiak said she couldn’t support adding only one counselor.
“I’ve been looking at the number of pages in the audit, and the reoccurring theme of legally defensible paperwork,” Yozwiak said. “Pleasant Valley Intermediate School needs one as well. How can you flip a coin and say PVE gets the counselor? PVI is just as important. The statistics don’t lie.”
Superintendent David Piperato said PVE has more students and there are different needs at PVE than PVI.
“It doesn’t mean we don’t need another counselor at PVI, but Mr. Kise’s request for that position had nothing to do with the special education audit,” he said.
While Thursday’s motion only authorized the posting of the positions, hiring two counselors would require Pleasant Valley to dip into other pots, such as its capital reserve fund, to pay for any math coaches.
A math coach, Piperato said, costs around $90,000, including salary and benefits.
“In your budget, you carved out $750,000 for capital reserves so you could dip into that if you needed to,” Piperato told the board.
Director Laura Jecker said she doesn’t support hiring a math coach at this time.
“I don’t feel we have enough accountability for the coaches we have,” Jecker said. “I don’t want to add more right now without more measurable data for the coaches we have.”
Fellow board member Dan Wunder, however, said with any position he expects there would be accountability to the principal and superintendent.
“Mr. Piperato has held our employees accountable, and I would expect that to continue,” Wunder said.
Asked what issues there are with posting positions but not hiring anyone, Dr. John Burrus, director of human resources, said, “it’s much easier to post for what you need rather than post and try to retract later.”
Sue Kresge, Robert Serfass and Russ Gould voted against posting for two counselors and a math coach, each saying it was going against the administration’s recommendation.
“We have had lots of discussion about this and the administration has been very passionate about what it wanted,” Gould said. “Who am I to switch it up? If we need another counselor down the road, I think the administration would bring that to us.”
Special education positions
All directors were in agreement on posting for the two special education jobs, a transition coordinator and a supervisor.
“I do think it’s important to have a transition coordinator,” Jecker said. “Also, we have over 1,200 special education students and another supervisor will help alleviate the load on the other two.”
Piperato said with an additional supervisor, the district would have one covering grades K-6, one covering middle school and one covering high school.
“As students move up in grade level, we tend to identify them as special education at those later stages, which is why we would recommend having one cover all of those lower levels at K-6. If we need to move people around in the future based on our numbers, we would have that flexibility.”