Administration Seeks to Use Existing Funds for New Positions

During Monday’s Board of Education meeting, Executive Director of Human Resources Dr. Heather Hopkins provided further clarity to both the need and minimal financial impact of adding key positions to the Student Services and Curriculum departments.
The administration first recommended the addition of these positions in January to address identified needs in the district. Should they be approved, they will be primarily funded using current district funds.
Curriculum Department Staffing
Looking specifically at the Curriculum Department, the two positions that were recommended for consideration by the Board included a Spanish Translator and Interpreter and an EL/Bilingual Instructional Coach. These positions are considered cost-neutral because they would not require any additional funds by the district.
“District 34 is an incredibly diverse school community, and these two positions will offer needed support without causing a financial strain on the district,” Hopkins said. “The funds are already present and utilized. As an administration, we have taken a look at how to better focus those monies to meet the needs of students and families.”
Cost of Positions
Following a careful analysis, it was found that the cost of hiring a Translator and Interpreter would be equal to what the district currently spends to utilize the services of an outside agency. Looking at the coach position, this would be paid for out of the district’s Title III Grant.
Role of Positions
The full-time Spanish Translator and Interpreter would support the communication needs of the district office and schools. The primary purpose of the EL/Bilingual Instructional Coach would be to provide leadership and professional development and to support the use of data to increase student achievement for EL and bilingual students district-wide.
Student Services Department Staffing
As for Student Services, it was recommended to add a Student Services Coordinator at the middle level and that a current part-time administrative assistant position go full-time. It was also recommended that an out-of-district liaison position be expanded beyond just supporting the middle schools to all eight schools.
While it was also felt that an additional psychologist would better support the nearly 1,800 middle school students and provide needed leadership as a behavior strategist, Interim Executive Directors of Student Services Kathleen Hart and Michael Meyers recommended this be considered the following school year.
Cost of Positions
The total cost of these positions will be primarily covered through a reallocation of current district funds.
“As an administration, we looked at all of our budgets and found that by reprioritizing funds and, identifying anticipated changes in demands, we can realize significant savings that can be applied to the costs of the Student Services recommendations,” Hopkins said. Additionally, as we move forward with the budgeting process for 2017-18, we believe we can identify the sources for any new monies needed.”
Role of Positions
The addition of the Student Services Coordinator would be to primarily support the middle schools. This position currently exists but is split between both middle schools. In looking at the position of an out-of-district liaison, currently a retired staff member manages the out-of-district placements at the middle level. This role means acting as the district’s representative when helping families navigate their children’s placement in a more intensive setting. Hart and Meyers feel this role has been so successful it should be expanded to include out-of-district placements across the district. Finally, by increasing the role of the administrative assistant to full-time, it would also offer greater support for the department as a whole.
The Board of Education will vote on the proposed positions at its meeting on March 20.