School board debates teacher hiring policy

— The Cazenovia Board of Education last week filled the fifth grade teaching position in the middle school that was added the week before school started — but not until the board had a lengthy discussion over district hiring policies and whether or not the board itself should get involved in selecting position candidates. Such a change — the board currently only approves or rejects new hires put forth by the superintendent after being selected by a committee — would fundamentally alter the hiring policy and give the board a responsibility that is currently held only by the superintendent.

“It’s my job to recommend who we hire,” said Superintendent Bob Dubik. “If you take that job from me that’s a difficult road you’re going down.”

The issue was broached at the board’s Sept. 16 regular meeting during a vote on personnel approvals, one of which was the hiring of the new fifth grade teacher, Vicky Gilliland. Gilliland is a 2008 graduate of Cazenovia High School, a 2012 graduate of Niagara University and was previously employed at the Syracuse Academy of Sciences.

Board member Leigh Baldwin asked Dubik why, in a field of more than 70 candidates for the fifth grade position, the district selected someone with only one year of teaching experience. He said the district seems to be hiring people based on lack of experience and therefore a lower starting salary rather than hiring the best candidate in the field who may cost a little more.

“Experience does matter … It’s easier to judge someone with a track record,” Baldwin said. “I’d like to make sure as a board we have a policy on this.”

Board member Cindy Bell Tobey agreed, and noted, “This is the third time we’ve hired right out of college.”

Last month, the board approved a new fourth grade teacher and new high school English as a Second Language teacher — one was a first-year teacher and the other had only a few years of teaching experience in a private school.

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