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Teachers union votes ‘no confidence’ in Pioneer administration

  • Pioneer Valley Regional School. STAFF FILE PHOTO



Staff Writer
Thursday, August 09, 2018

NORTHFIELD — A vote by the district’s teachers union expressed “no confidence” in the Pioneer Valley Regional School District administration.

The Pioneer Valley Regional Education Association made the vote in a June Survey, union president Ariel LaReau told the School Committee Thursday night.

Due to requirements of the open meeting law, LaReau said she could not speak in detail about the vote. She requested that it be discussed in an executive session with the School Committee at a later date. Board members agreed to comply with this request.

Meanwhile, changes in the administrative structure of Pioneer Valley Regional School are being explored since the departure of former Assistant Principal Jennifer Albert-Perry at the end of last school year.

Rather than fill the assistant principal position, Superintendent Jonathan Scagel proposed at the School Committee meeting Thursday night, the school could instead hire a dean of students and re-institute the “head teacher” program, which was popular among teachers but was terminated last year. In that program, about four teachers in the school would help with curriculum coordination and certain administrative functions and would be paid a stipend.

Scagel said the plan would free up about $12,000, which could be put toward hiring a technology integration specialist and a technology director.

“The idea is exciting because it would make people say Pioneer is coming back,” said LaReau, a teacher at the Pioneer Valley Regional School.

The idea was not embraced by everyone at the meeting. Pioneer Principal Jean Bacon pointed out that, where the assistant principal would often work more than 10 hours a day, this new program would divide those responsibilities among a number of employees, none of whom would be as committed to the work as a single person would be.

Also, there was uncertainty over whether it would be possible for Scagel to simply re-hire the previous dean of students, Cathy Hawkins-Harrison — “the mother of our school,” LaReau called her — or if it was Bacon’s prerogative as the principal to make hiring decisions.