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Joseph irked by shared leadership; enrollment gap triggers staff cuts

At its monthly meeting Monday night, the Miller-McCoy board faced staff and administrators frustrated by a recent restructuring of school leadership and academics.

With a $500,000 budget gap caused by lower-than-anticipated enrollment, consultant Andrea Thomas-Reynolds has been working with interim principal Brian Joseph and newly appointed achievement director Janice Bailey-Walker to cut unnecessary staff and consolidate class schedules.

“You had a lot of staff with a lot of time not spent in the classroom. The number of staff is accountable to the number of kids in your school. If you continued to structure the way you were, you would have been in the red by February,” Reynolds said.

Administratively, Reynolds supported bringing on Bailey-Walker as head of achievement and Jacinta Sanders as director of finance and operations. Together, the three women work with the interim principal to run the school.

Though on board with the cuts to staffing, Joseph expressed concern about the school leadership structure. “I feel this has drastically affected our ability to serve the kids,” he said. “I feel my authority has been usurped because I haven’t had the chance to lead. If you want me to be the principal, let me be the principal.”

Joseph’s comments seemed to catch both both Thomas-Reynolds and Sanders by surprise. They said they were “shocked” to be hearing his criticisms for the first time in front of the board.

Several staff members attended the meeting and expressed frustration with the slow approval of the 403b retirement savings plan. Nadirah Mateen, a teacher at the school since 2008, said she’d been promised retroactive contributions to her retirement account, a promise that the board said had never been formally approved.

“I have been here since 2008 and I have nothing to put towards my retirement. Nothing,” Mateen said.

She urged the board to call a special meeting to sign a contract with Hartford, the company chosen by a group of administrators and teachers as an alternative to the increasingly costly state pension plan.

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