We could only imagine the expressions and comments from some readers when they saw the headline: “Garceau: 7 new positions would aid instruction, oversight.”
Who wouldn’t want to add positions at work to help carry the load or improve quality or grow the business?
But this isn’t any “work” and it’s far from any “job.” We’re talking about educating students, in this particular case Westerly students under the direction of Superintendent Mark Garceau.
Garceau, hired in the summer, is in the midst of presenting his first budget as Westerly’s new education leader. He is asking for an assistant principal position to be reinstated at the high school along with the addition of a math remediation teacher and medical “pathway” teacher, also at the high school. He’s seeking a paraprofessional at the middle school to assist with the behavioral support program, two math teachers at the elementary level, and, as he put it, he wants to at least “start the conversation,” about adding full-time instructors for music and theater classes.
Those staffing requests total $681,000, and they come after last week’s budget session in which Garceau proposed adding seven positions in special education programs at a cost of $407,645.
Garceau knows the reality he’s facing, acknowledging Wednesday night, “we know not all of this is going to survive this spring process, but that’s where we are.”
In discussing the high school assistant principal position, Garceau referenced several incidents last month in which police were called to the school and seven students were charged after fights.
The assistant principal would be responsible for staff evaluations and supervision of the building as well as the school’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School program. The middle school assistant principal currently oversees that program, which can leave the middle school shorthanded.
Most of us have to juggle lots of responsibilities at work, but we’re not juggling young children or adolescents. We’re not challenged with taking a bright student to the next level. And we’re not — with the exceptions of social workers, health care workers and police officers — picking up the pieces of dysfunctional families while trying to educate future generations.
Garceau’s early request is a wish list, probably not a perfect-world list, but a wish list. With all due respect to taxpayers, we wish him well on this mission, which is a mission on behalf of all.