Jan 20, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
Six Jordan-Elbridge school board members and interim superintendent Larry Zacher walked out of their own meeting last night, Wednesday Jan. 19, after suspended principal David Zehner was escorted off the campus by an Onondaga County sheriffs deputy when he refused to yield the floor.
Zehner was suggesting ways for the district to save well over $1 million in the upcoming budget year when board members motioned to the police officer. Zehner proposed the district drop all 3020-a charges against him and suspended Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Bill Hamilton, all of which he contends are frivolous, and return them to their positions in the district.
Zehner also suggested the district return Sue Gorton to her job as Special Education Director, and ask Marilyn Dominick, who was forced to retire early, to return as superintendent.
“I understand that [Dominick] offered to do so for the salary of $30,000 a year, saving the district $120,000 over the cost of Dr. Zacher,” Zehner’s proposal reads.
The board claimed that Zehner exceeded his five-minute limit during the public comments section, but Jarrod Smith, a lawyer representing residents in the district, said Zehner should have been allowed more time since others yielded their speaking time to him.
Zehner claimed the board set him up in an attempt to gain some public sympathy.
“They didn’t really care what I had to say at all, they were just waiting for my 5 minutes to be up so they could get rid of me,” he said. Zehner said at least two other residents were allowed to speak longer than five minutes during the meeting.
As Zacher and board members Jeanne Pieklik, Roger Hill, Diana Foote, Erica O’Brien, Mary Alley and Penny Feeney walked out, three board members remained in the meeting held in the high school cafeteria — Connie Drake, Brian Richardson and Michael Jorolemon.
Zacher and the six board members returned to finish the meeting, and were later met with resistance by those board members that had stayed. Connie Drake and Michael Jorolemon voted “no” to the consent agenda while Brian Richardson abstained. The consent agenda, which still passed, included the hire of Eric Dobmeier for a half-time instrumental music teacher position to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Thomas Gegenheimer. Gegenheimer’s last day is Jan. 31 and he is currently the instrumental music, jazz and band director for grades nine through 12. He has also been in charge of directing J-E’s award-winning marching band.
The district initially advertised the position as full-time, as it was when held by Gegenheimer, but had since changed the description to half-time.
Zacher explained in an e-mail response to Mary Jo Wick, a parent in the district, that the position was changed to half-time after a review by the administration of J-E music teacher schedules.
“We determined that we could reasonably reduce the position this year to half time with minimal disruption to student scheduling and program,” Zacher wrote. “We decided that it would be too disruptive to eliminate the position completely. It may be possible to not fill the position at all for next year.
“One of the reasons I [decided] to take this route was to avoid hiring someone this year whose position might be eliminated in the upcoming budget cycle. Also, we apparently have full time teachers who are ‘under-scheduled.'”