School district lucky to have experienced assistant
I’d like to address the concerns expressed in a recent letter to The Union regarding the Pleasant Ridge school board’s decision to hire retiring Superintendent Jim Meshwert to fill next year’s part-time assistant to the superintendent position.
Responding to Budget Committee recommendations to cut $80,000 in administrative expenses, the board and district administrative staff spent the better part of the past year researching school administration models and attempting to design an administrative team that would efficiently and effectively meet the district’s needs.
After deciding to eliminate the full-time assistant superintendent position and to hire current Assistant Superintendent Linda Kramer to replace Superintendent Meshwert upon his retirement in June ’05, the board then asked the same question posed in The Union’s letter: With all Mrs. Kramer’s years of experience in the district, would she, as superintendent, require assistance? The answer to that question is: Yes. The volume of work required of the superintendent for a district the size of ours is tremendous. Administrative responsibilities that include community and staff issues, state/federal compliance issues, budget development, special education, insurance and transportation contracts, workers’ comp. contracts, district operations and building modernization projects have been shared in our district, for the past 13 years, by two full-time employees.
It would not be fair to Mrs. Kramer to expect her to single-handedly fulfill the obligations of a two-person job. District principals are taking on part of the load (some special education administration, curriculum coordination and technology development), but the remaining responsibilities will require the services of a part-time assistant.
Based on the past year’s research, the board budgeted for a salary in the mid-$30,000s to provide part-time assistance to the superintendent and stay within the $80,000 budget reduction. When Mr. Meshwert offered to serve as next year’s assistant, he also offered to work for $10,000 less than our budgeted amount to increase district savings to over $90,000.
Granted, Mr. Meshwert’s experience and knowledge of the district very likely makes him the most overqualified administrative assistant in California. However, since the past two years have seen turnover in two key district office positions (secretary and business manager), having a seasoned administrator in the assistant position for the new superintendent’s first year is an advantage. Even considering Mrs. Kramer’s experience and dedication, training a new assistant would add greater challenge to an already demanding year.
The school board addressed the district’s administrative transition in public meetings in November and December (all meetings were advertised in posted notices, the district Web site and listserv e-mails to the school community; board members’ e-mail addresses are published on every board meeting reminder to provide community members who are unable to attend meetings an opportunity to comment/ask questions on agenda items). Today, District Parents’ Club and the school board will co-host another community forum to answer questions on the transition plan and to obtain input on setting goals for the next chapter in the district’s future. Everyone is again encouraged to attend and participate. The issues facing our local schools are most productively resolved by an informed community.
Carol Brady and her family have been Alta Sierra residents for 15 years. Her sons attended Alta Sierra Elementary and Magnolia Intermediate; her youngest son is currently an eighth-grader at Magnolia. Carol is serving her third year on the PRUSD school board.
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