BOE Transfers Principals To Reflect Vision for 'Fluid Instruction'
Longtime Principal Peter O'Hare moves to Euclid, Linda Simmons gets Middle School principal job, Steve Forte named new High School principal
As of Feb. 1, three of the district's schools will have new principals as the board of education voted 5 to 3 in favor of three transfers that will fill the vacant middle school position while also transferring two of the district's other principals to different schools–a move they said reflects the district's vision to create a fluid plan for pre-K to 12 instruction.
Linda Simmons, current principal of Euclid Elementary School, will become the new principal of the middle school. The board also voted in favor of eliminating the position of director of curriculum and technology, which was held by Steve Forte, who will now become the principal of the high school. Peter O'Hare, who has been principal at the high school for the past 14 years, will now take the helm at Euclid School.
Former middle school principal Edward Bolcar, Jr. left the school just two weeks ago for a superintendent's position in another district.
Parents filled the media center Tuesday night to voice their disapproval of the change occurring mid-year while many had questions as to why the re-shuffling was needed. Some said they supported the board's decision.
Many parents questioned the logic behind the multiple moves. Some called Forte a "stranger" to the students at the high school, especially the seniors who have been with O'Hare for several years and now have to see him leave just a few months before they graduate.
The board members stated that the decision was difficult and that they deliberated over many possibilities.
"We have to do what is for the betterment of the district," said Board President Richard Giarratana, adding that he doesn't see a risk in this move at all as he has confidence in Superintendent Dr. Mark Porto and the three principals.
Porto explained the board's vision, stating that they are creating a team among administrators of all the schools to offer fluid instruction which will benefit all of the students as this will ready them for post-secondary education whether it is college, military or trade.
"This reform is upon us and our great principals who have risen to the occasion are buying into this vision," Porto said. As for moving the principals during the middle of the school year, Porto said the need to fill the void was immediate.
However board member Josephine Ciocia voted against the move, stating that she had no objection to the transfers themselves but believed that it should not be done in the middle of the school year. Her statement was met with a round of applause from many of those in attendance.
Joseph Rinke, vice president, and board member Mark Nazarro agreed with Ciocia, stating that there are alternatives that could be considered. Nazarro added that he believed the district could find a way to job share until June without disrupting the school year.
Board members Connie Doheney, Joann Garifalos, Lisa Hodulik and Richard Paradi all said that they have heard from all of the administrators involved and they do believe that this is the best decision for the district and that it is for the benefit of the students.
Several Euclid School parents said they did not want to see Linda Simmons leave. One parent of a special needs student at the school said her child had dealt with too much change this year, including his teacher taking maternity leave. She said it was a lot for young kids to handle.
"It's hard to let go of Euclid School," Simmons told the parents. "I believe in Dr. Porto's instructional vision that we're headed toward, which is why I'm doing this. It's emotional and it's tough. I've had a few nights of crying, but I know I'll see the kids again as they pass through."
One parent asked if the board considered moving Forte directly to the middle school, or to Euclid School instead of taking O'Hare out of the high school. Porto said they had considered multiple iterations for what could be done but because the students who are not faring as well need the most assistance, they looked toward Simmons.
Porto explained that the middle school is known as a failing school according to No Child Left Behind standards and therefore "needs a very strong leader" behind the remedial program they have developed.
Porto added that the savings from eliminating the director of curriculum and technology position will be filtered into the classrooms where it can be better utilized. Most of the board members voted yes to this move.
Some parents of high school seniors said they hoped that O'Hare will hand the students their diplomas at graduation and not their new principal, something the board members said they have taken into consideration as they discussed the transfers. Porto agreed.
O'Hare said he preferred not to comment on the transfer plan, but stated that 90 percent of high school seniors go on to college and he doesn't see why anyone would think there is anything negative about the high school.