Discussion of the search for a new Supervisor of Attendance continued at the recent School Committee meeting, as the committee members took turns giving their views on whether the position should be expanded to two people instead of one. Superintendent Catherine Latham expressed interest in cutting an unfilled confidential secretary position and using the money to hire a second supervisor of attendance.
Latham stated “I think we are fiscally able and programatically justified in adding two supervisors of attendance. We have two extremely qualified people with different backgrounds and experience who directly provide service supports to our students. I’m asking for your support in this matter.”
Committee member Lorraine Gately seemed hesitant to support the proposal, saying “I went to a city council meeting and I heard a lot from parents and people who live in the city of Lynn and they are up in arms about ‘too many supervisors, too many people up in the hierarchy.’ And I’m wondering if we could spend this money a little bit differently. I understand this, but I also understand the fact that our city is hurting and the people in our city are saying to us ‘why are we always spending more money on supervisors.’”
Latham clarified the true role of the position, saying “The title of this is ‘Supervisor of Attendance’ and it’s a title given by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and I think it’s a little bit of a misnomer, because they don’t really supervise, they assist students. We haven’t been able really to have programs for chronic absenteeism, plans throughout the city, or to write grants, so I think a supervisor is not really what we have, this is a person, or two people, who will provide support services for students throughout the city.”
Committee member John Ford voiced strong support for the proposal and speaking about a violent incident that happened at a local school. “My wife works at Sacred Heart and have an incident and have an incident of a four-year-old trying to stab another for-year-old. We just have things that are happening in society are crazy. We have to start addressing social and emotional needs more and more. I think there’s going to be more than enough work for these two people. The numbers in Lynn are staggering. I actually talked to a probation officer the other night and he thought it was a great idea.”
Committee Member Donna Coppola was resistant to the idea that the district needed to hire two supervisors, voicing concern over the sudden pivot in direction. “It is budgeted for one job, it is posted for one job. I have had numerous calls in regards to this, from principals and teachers saying that if we have extra money, they want it in the school, they need the support within the school. So if there is extra money like you said for the confidential secretary, we need to be looking to put it directly in the schools. We’re too top-heavy. At one time we had 180 custodians with. The main thing is we posted for one job, and that’s what we have budgeted and we really have to stick to that. If you want to come back and do another posting of some sort or you want to make another posting that addresses some of the stuff that you were talking about, but we are also looking for a new Superintendent.”
Coppola went on to explain her view that that a new Superintendent may not want two Supervisors of Attendance and hiring them may put the next Superintendent in an awkward position. The idea gained a lot of support but was not universally supported among committee members.
The motion to create the two positions passed in a 5-2 vote with committee members Gately and Coppola voting against it. Every committee member voted in favor of hiring Kristin Fraher and Ryan McDermott to fill the new Supervisor of Attendance posts.