COXSACKIE — An unprecedented number of teachers are being reassigned for the upcoming school year in the Coxsackie-Athens Central School District, a teacher and the school superintendent said.
“We had 18 teachers reassigned this year, all but one to a different building,” band teacher Ben Richards said during a special board of education meeting Wednesday night. “That is an extraordinary amount of movement.”
Richards is also the co-president of the Coxsackie-Athens Teachers’ Association.
Reassignments are not unheard of, but this year’s numbers have been unusually high, Coxsackie-Athens School Superintendent Randall Squier said Thursday.
“Like all school districts, we have to look at vacancies due to retirement and enrollment shifts,” he said. “Over three-quarters of the reassignments were based on those factors.”
Because enrollment is declining, there was a need to shift teachers to the middle school, Squier said.
“We also had a couple of retirements and needed to fill those vacancies,” he said. “A large number of the reassignments were through special education teachers who grow up with the kids through the system.”
Richards said Friday he feels that these reasons can’t account for all of the transfers.
“The number of teachers moved this year is much higher than normal, and only a small number are related to class sizes or the other usual reasons,” he said. “While we have full confidence in the ability of our teachers to be prepared for their new classes, we do wonder if this many transfers is in the best interest of their professional development, which is an important part of educating our students.”
The administration considers a number of factors when making these decisions, Squier said.
“The teachers are certainly certified and qualified to teach the grades they are moved to,” he said. “They might be moved because A) they have experience there or B) they asked for the move.”
Richards confirmed that the teachers are certified in the new course assignments.
“While this requires teachers to learn all new curricula, they are certified in the area for their new assignment and we are confident they will be fully prepared to provide a high-quality education to their new students,” he said.
The abundant change should not harm the educational environment for students, Squier said.
“Kids will have high-quality teachers in the classroom, whether they’ve been in that classroom for 10 years or it is their first year in the classroom,” Squier said.
The district has been providing support for staff to cope with the changes, Squier said.
The changes are bad for staff morale, Richards countered.
“For the vast majority of these teachers, they did not want to move; they enjoyed teaching the students in their current grade level,” Richards said. “We have a culture of teaming together in our district, and these transfers are breaking up teams that have worked well with each other for a number of years.”
Students will also be impacted, Richards added.
“There will now be a much greater-than-usual number of teachers needing to learn new programs and curricula,” Richards said. “With that said, we have full confidence that our outstanding teachers will be prepared to teach their new classes on the first day of school.”
The district administration gave teachers advance notice of the moves, Squier said.
“They were notified May 23,” he said, adding that the district was not required to notify the teachers until the end of June.
“I prefer to let people know as soon as we can,” he said.
Richards confirmed that the administration met its contractual obligation to give teacher’s notice and reasons for being moved.
Despite the fluctuations, Squier said he is grateful the district has not had to cut any positions.
Board members Carol Ann Luccio, Barton Wallace, Michael Donahue and Joseph T. “Seph” Garland III were not present at Wednesday’s meeting.
The special meeting was called to appoint new staff, Squier said, so that the they could give notice to their current employers.
The next regular board meeting will be held June 20 at 6:30 p.m.