By Nathan Mayberg
FALLSBURG December 27, 2005 Overriding the objections of numerous teachers who attended Wednesdays Fallsburg Central School District Board of Education meeting, the board voted unanimously to demote interim High School Principal Mona Bogan to dean of the school and hire former Roscoe Superintendent and Liberty and Monticello High School Principal George Will to the position of interim High School Principal.
A number of long-tenured teachers called on the board to retain Bogan as principal, citing the frequent turbulence in that role over the last several years. By one teachers count, there have been about ten principals at the school over the last four years.
The teachers concurred that Bogan has been successful in maintaining discipline among students. Some said the school was safer than it had been in years.
Board President Robert Scheinman responded that Bogan would return to her former position as dean, where she will be handling disciplinary action against students directly. He said the position was vacant and requested by the teachers bargaining unit to be filled.
One teacher, Arthur Rosenshein, called Bogan the first competent principal the teachers have had since Superintendent Barry Foster retired. Rosenshein said he felt like a foster child being sent from home to home with all of the new principals at the school since then.
Mike Weiner, another long-tenured teacher, said that Bogan scheduled better with new teachers than anybody before her.
The districts interim Superintendent, Charlotte Gregory, cited the amount of new staff in the district as one of the reasons the decision was made to bring in a more experienced administrator such as Will.
Nancy Lee, who was representing several academic departments in the school, said the decision by the board would be a really big mistake. Lee said that communication between the teachers and the administration had never been as good.
Bogan has been with the district her entire professional career and is actually a former student. One teacher, who has known her since they were students at Fallsburg, called Bogan an empathetic and respected leader.
A high school band teacher choked up as he praised Bogan, saying the school was in the best shape it has been in the last 17 years he has been teaching. When he traveled around the community recently to build support for the new roofing project in the district, he said he was told by local residents about the great job they heard Bogan was doing.
One teacher summed up the feelings of her fellow instructors by saying they were devastated.
Stuart and Ilene Wizwer both spoke out in support of Bogan. Ilene is a long-tenured teacher with the district, although Stuart is not. Even so, he said the school was changing too many horses mid-stream. In addition to all of the changing principals, the district has also had several superintendents in recent years.
He said Bogan was a benefit to the school in that she has lived in and worked at Fallsburg all of her life and would not likely be using her position as a stepping stone to move on to another district.
He asked, Why do we keep changing all of these administrators in such a short period of time?
Despite all of the comments, the board did not speak publicly about their unanimous decision to replace her. Voting in favor of the move were board members Robin Bedik, Karen Fountain, Melvin Mednick, Scheinman, Barbara Strauss, Shawn Wiles, Vice President Michael Zalkin and Thomas Zuewsky. Darryl Wells was absent.
Scheinman, Bedik and Mednick all refused to comment on their decision after the meeting.
Gregory said that Will is a seasoned veteran at handling administrative duties. She said his experience would be helpful in dealing with a lot of new staff, particularly in other administrative positions. She said there was only one administrator in the district with tenure.
Gregory said the school is also facing challenges such as low test scores.
Its not that Mona hasnt done a good job. Its difficult to make that kind of leap, she said.
She also complimented Gregory for her work in handling discipline among the student body.
The meeting was rather unorthodox, with a half-hour executive session before the meeting and more than an hour of closed doors in the middle of the meeting to meet with their attorney.
The board also voted to retain Gregory in the position of interim superintendent through July at the salary of $550 a day. The boards efforts to find a new superintendent have not met with success, however. BOCES led a search that did not locate any candidates that satisfied the board.
It was stated that BOCES will be called upon again to find another candidate.
One teacher asked why the board didnt hire an outside firm to find a suitable candidate. She expressed concerns about the way the position was being marketed and advertised. Both Gregory and Scheinman indicated that money was an issue in their choice not to hire a private firm. (BOCES is normally less expensive than private firms.)
In other business, SYDA presented the school with a $5,000 check to support the eight children attending an upcoming leadership conference in Atlanta.