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School board approves assistant principal positions

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Pictured from left are board members James Edwards, Mona Kirk and board Vice President Ruben Sanchez during discussion about administrative salaries for new assistant principal positions. (Alison Penn Photo)

Roswell Independent School District (RISD) elementary schools may transition teachers on special assignment (TOSA) to new positions as assistant principals.

The final vote was three RISD school board members in favor, with one recusal and one choosing to abstain at the board meeting on March 19.

Superintendent Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy recommended approval of the action item and explained teachers currently titled as TOSAs would transition to assistant principal positions, and the district is not adding any TOSAs. There are currently nine active TOSAs, one at each of the four middle schools and five at the elementary level, McIlroy said.

McIlroy explained that TOSAS “are employed as teachers, they’re acting as administrators.” McIlroy said assistant principal positions are present at the middle and high school level, as reflected in the salary schedule, but there have “never” been assistant principals at elementary schools.

The superintendent also explained the district will have to add a salary column for that job title and needs the board’s approval before the item goes to the New Mexico Public Education Department for consideration. McIlroy said Chad Cole, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, calculated that it would cost the district $48,000 to the end of the school year, and this amount has decreased since the numbers were provided last month.

After this, the assistant principals will be evaluated as administrators. McIlroy said the final action would be to “establish new parameters” if there was a need for another assistant principal at a school. Along with a pay increase, McIlroy the contracts would extend and the transition doesn’t ensure an assistant principal position for next school year, unless that individual is doing a “quality job” and receives a job offer.

“Quite frankly, it gives legitimacy to their position,” McIlroy said when asked for the rationale behind the change. “Quite often, parents discount their authority because they’re a TOSA. They’re not a principal and so it makes it difficult. Currently, all of the TOSAs that we have in our district hold the three-B administrative license that is required to be an administrator and quite frankly if they’re going to function in that capacity they need to be titled as such.

“It clarifies their role in the school buildings with principals. Currently, a TOSA can be anything from a school testing coordinator to the primary disciplinarian and anything in between. What it does for us is it forces the principal to use them across the spectrum of administrative responsibilities, thus preparing them to enter into building leadership.”

McIlroy said the district’s administrators have liability protection in situations involving teacher evaluation and student discipline, unlike teachers which are TOSAs. McIlroy also explained that a TOSA would have tenure after being offered a third contract, while administrative jobs are at-will.

If there is a situation in which a tenured TOSA’s performance is lacking, McIlroy said this would leave the “district’s hands tied” and such protection for the district was recommended by RISD’s attorney.

Board’s input 

RISD board members Vice President Ruben Sanchez, Secretary Kathleen Pittman and Mona Kirk, at the school board meeting on March 19, voted in favor of the positions and the salary schedules going along with them.

Kirk made the motion and Pittman seconded.

President Alan Gedde recused himself from voting and discussing the item. On Monday, Gedde clarified to the Daily Record that he chose to not participate in that item because his wife is currently a TOSA at Valley View Elementary School.

Sanchez showed support for the measure provided that it “ultimately works out for the kids” and helps principals too. Pittman said transitioning TOSAs to assistant principals would be “developing our personnel, as well as helping the principals out.”

As a former elementary principal, Kirk said she asked for elementary assistant principal positions “years ago.” Kirk added these new positions would give job security to the current TOSAs and though she had initial “reservations,” she said it “makes sense to support” the district’s current principals.

Accountability 

In addition, McIlroy said TOSAs cannot be evaluated as teachers or as administrators and as assistant principals, they will be evaluated and held accountable.

Edwards asked for clarification on the evaluations and TOSAs at the middle schools. McIlroy said principals would evaluate the assistants and she would have influence as the evaluator of the principals.

“I’m going to throw it out there — just because a person has a position doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily qualified to be in those positions,” Edwards said. “I’ve seen it plenty of times, a person has been given a position just because they’ve got the position … and that’s not all people. But I’ve ran into some people that I don’t think should be in the positions, but they are, and they’re still there. Unless we hold people accountable, I do have some reservations …”

Referencing the administrative salary increases in August and teacher increases in June, Sanchez asked for the district to continue to “make sure we have the right people in the right positions every year,” allowing changes to be made for students’ success.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.