May 20, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Mary Kate Lonergan, the Cazenovia High School social studies teacher whose announced layoff at the beginning of 2013 caused such a community outcry that the school board recently shifted money from the district reserve funds to maintain her position, has resigned in order to take a job at Fayetteville-Manlius High School.
Lonergan, whose resignation was officially received and accepted by district administrators last Thursday, explained her decision in a letter to the editor published in this week’s issue of the Cazenovia Republican. She said her choice was one of necessity and not desire, in order to have more job security.
“After four consecutive years of living with the threat of losing my job here at Cazenovia, this year was the most difficult to bear. For the last four years, I have lived in limbo, worrying if I would have a job the following September,” she wrote in her letter. “I did not anticipate the unprecedented support I received from the board of education and was shocked to hear that my job would be maintained for another year. As deeply honored and humbled as I am by their gracious vote to maintain the position for 2013-14, the current budgetary and demographic situation makes it likely that it will be under review again next year.”
Lonergan said she wrote the letter to inform the community and to show her gratitude for everyone’s support.
Lonergan’s layoff became a major issue during budget discussion this past spring when its announcement in March caused numerous students, parents and community members to speak out at board of education meetings urging the board to keep her. She was consistently characterized as an outstanding teacher and a life-changing mentor.
The school board ultimately voted on April 22 to take money from the district reserve budget (also called the fund balance) and add it to the overall budget solely to save Lonergan’s job.
Cazenovia District Superintendent Bob Dubik confirmed that he received Lonergan’s resignation last week, asking to be made effective June 30. It was presented to the school board for consideration at its May 21 meeting.
“We hated to see her leave; she’s a good and valued teacher. We hate to see anybody leave. But she knows the situation that we face in the future with declining enrollment,” Dubik said. “Our loss is certainly FM’s gain, and we wish her well.”
Cazenovia’s declining enrollment, as well as increased retirement and health care costs and large reductions in state and federal aid was the reason for this year’s announced staffing cuts. The other four positions eliminated by the 2013-14 budget were all through attrition.
Social Studies Department Chair Kurt Wheeler, who spoke out and fought hard for the board to retain Lonergan’s position, said, “Ms. Lonergan has been a superb teacher and a valued colleague in the Social Studies Department. We are very sad to see her go but completely understand and support her decision given the precarious nature of her position due to our financial and demographic situation. We wish her all the best at FM.”
School Board President Fritz Koennecke, who is retiring from the board this year, said the budget is done and cannot be changed now. The question for the incoming board after the May 21 budget vote and BOE election is whether or not to hire a replacement with the allocated funding, he said.
Dubik said there has been no discussion yet on whether or not the social studies position will be filled. While the district administration recommends whether or not to fill the position, it is ultimately the school board’s decision. If it is decided not to hire a replacement for Lonergan, the money goes back into the district’s general fund.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.