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Shared position holders cite positive, negative aspects of job

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ST. REGIS FALLS - Those in shared positions between St. Regis Falls and Brushton-Moira central schools spoke on both the positive and negative aspects of being shared between both districts at a joint meeting.

For the most part, those in the shared positions had a positive outlook on the experience, saying, “It saves the districts money.”

Shared Transportation Supervisor Darrin Jock said it has been “an interesting journey.”

He said he was proud of his fellow co-workers.

“We haven’t slacked [since the start of sharing]. In fact we’ve gotten better,” Mr. Jock said.

However, he said the only downside of being shared is the inability to “always be there,” noting that when issues do arrive, they’re usually in the district he is not in.

One thing Mr. Jock would like to see is more programs to help enhance the mechanical skills of him and his co-workers.

Shared Food Service Manager Mary-Ellen McKane works three days at Salmon River Central School, one day at BMC and one day at SRF.

She said one of the challenges she faces is the inability to research the food service industry to see what she can provide for students.

Though BMC board member Joy Hastings said Ms. McKane and Food Service Manger Scott Spillane are doing well with what they have, she has heard people say that the government isn’t allowing enough calories for students who run or attend practices after school.

“The kids are hungry,” Ms.Hastings said.

Ms. McKane noted with the Health Hunger-Free Kids Act, there are certain rules that must be followed.

She said the breakfasts and lunches at the schools are designed to hold students over from meal to meal.

“If the child chooses everything, they will make it between meals,” Ms. McKane said, adding that many students don’t always want to include vegetables on their trays.

However, students have an option of purchasing a 79 cent after-school snack, according to Mr. Spillane.

“It has to be a dairy product, fruit and grains,” Ms. McKane said of what needs to be presented on the after-school menu. “We tend to use a grain and milk or juice and a dairy product.”

Shared Business Manger Susan Perkins is not only shared between the schools, but she is also with the Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Ms. Perkins noted that she puts in an extended period of hours during the budget season and closing down at the end of the year.

She also noted that Brushton-Moira is closing in on its second year with a shared business manager.

“We need to look at the next 18 months,” she said. “Implementing was the first 18 months and sustaining will be the next 18 months.”

For the most part, board members believed Ms. Perkins was doing a good job in her shared position.

However, SRF board President Mickey Smith said he thinks sometimes it’s “unfair” when Ms. Perkins and Shared Superintendent Donna André have to work late nights.

But he said he is happy with the amount of effort put in between the both of them.

But Ms. Perkins is not a one-woman show.

“It’s not just Susan, there is a whole team of people,” said SRF board Vice President Thomas O’Bryan.

BMC board member Tracy Edwards-Warren noted that were also payroll and human resource personnel as well.

Ms. Edwards-Warren told Ms. Perkins she wanted the school to “tap more into” its human resource section of the department.

Lisa Bradley, the shared health teacher discussed her second-year experience of being in the position.

“Last year I was a negative Nancy,” Ms. Bradley said. “But I’m feeling much less stressed this year.”

Ms. Bradley said much of that reduced stress comes from the switch in her schedule between schools.

Last year, she was switching districts every other day.

“This year I’m in St. Regis Falls until January and then Brushton-Moira from January to June,” Ms. Bradley said. “It’s made a world of difference.”

She noted that she now had better rapport with her students, their performance is better and she feels she is able to provide students with more meaningful instruction.

However, Ms. Bradley noted, there was still some challenges with the split in semesters. She said student scheduling can become tricky for guidance counselors preparing their schedules.

Ms. Bradley also noted that it could become difficult at BMC to implement the Common Core standards based on some hands-on learning activities with a class of 25 students or more.

However, Ms. Bradley noted that class size is not a problem in SRF because of the smaller population in the school.

Shared Committee on Special Education/ Committee on Pre-School Special Education Chairperson Todd LaPage said he works at the schools the same days as Shared Superintendent Donna André.

Both work Tuesdays and Thursdays at SRF, Mondays and Wednesdays at BMC and on Fridays they split between both schools.

“My job would not be possible without administrative support,” Mr. LaPage said. “They let me know when there is a special education issue.”

But he noted that the constraints put on him is “almost impossible” to work.

“I put 42 hours in between Monday and Wednesday,” Mr. LaPage said, adding that he normally never works under 10 hours a day and has worked multiple 13- and 14-hour days.

“It does take away from my family,” he said, adding that even after regular school hours he usually has a meeting to attend.

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