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JANUARY 12, 2012

Superintendent Responds to Question About Office Support Duties T


LONDONDERRY TIMES ————––––––————–◆

he difference be- tween the amount of office support re-

quired for a public school and that needed in the corporate world is like apples and oranges - or like a little boy forgetting his lunch, Superintendent of Schools Nate Green- berg told the School Board. Greenberg, speaking at the Jan. 3 School Board meeting, was responding to a question from com- munity member Mike Brown at a recent budget

meeting. Brown was ques- tioning the number of administrative assistants, office assistants and cleri- cal support across the district, and wondering if any positions could be eliminated. Greenberg produced a 30-page document listing each position and its responsibilities. According to Green-

berg, the 32 office assis- tant positions across the district cannot be viewed in isolation. They are re- sponsible for such things as safety issues, filling out forms, collecting forms, em- ergency response, sched-

uling, purchase orders, col- lege applications, high school transcripts, and Individual Education Plans (IEPs).

Since 2006, Greenberg said, he has had to reduce 42 daily "assistant hours" or 8.5 positions. Most of these, he said, were ab- sorbed through technolo- gy. Administrators now write their own reports and memos, he said. But if administrators have taken on assistants' former tasks, the reverse is true as well, Greenberg said. The role of an office assistant is now much more than a traditional

secretary supplying sup- port to one individual. For example, he said, the assistant who reports to Business Manager Peter Curro also does all the scheduling for the district facilities, handling 8,000 to 8,500 events a year. An elementary school

office assistant was recent- ly "tracked" and found to have answered 21 phone calls, buzzed 55 people into the building, had 30 parent contacts and re- ceived seven deliveries. Greenberg added, "The

normal office environment doesn't get calls like 'I'm bringing in Johnny's lunch."

The world has chang- ed, and the administrative assistants also deal with safety issues, Greenberg said. "We have to be care- ful to whom students are released," he said, "and the office assistant is on the front lines of that." Board member Ron Campo said, "The pur- pose of the office assis- tant in a school is to serve the students and parents, not the administrators." Budget Committee Todd Joncas said, "It is money well spent, and there are significant reasons these positions are in place." Board chairman John

Robinson asked if more than one or two people had publicly questioned the assistants' roles. When told "no," he observed that Greenberg had done a lot of research on this and other issues, and he ques- tioned whether the admin- istration needed to follow up on every question. "Does this warrant the time?" he asked.

Campo said it did. "If one person brings it up, it's most likely that some- one else was asking him or her," Campo said. "It's our job to explain things to people."

School District Health Workers Contract Gets Board OK T


LONDONDERRY TIMES ————––––––————–◆

he School Board has unanimously approved a contract for the Allied Health Pro- fessionals collective bar- gaining unit, which will now go to voters for final approval.

At the Jan. 3 meeting,

the board voted 5-0 to accept the contract after a presentation by member Steve Young, a member of the negotiating team. Young said the negotia-

tions were “comfortable” and the staff understood the tough economic times. The members of the bargaining unit include

speech and language path- ologists, a speech and lan- guage aide, and physical and occupational thera- pists. The unit covers 33.5 people, he said, with some of the positions federally funded.

School personnel on the “step” system will continue to move up and be rewarded, Young said, but will receive no cost-of- living increase. Those off

the step, 13 people, will receive a 2 percent raise the first year of the con- tract, 2.25 percent the second year, and 2.5 per- cent the third year, he said. Each year will bring a 2 cents per $1,000 increase in the tax rate, Young said.

The contract will also have new wording in the sick bank section, allow- ing 20 more sick days to

be added “at large” for staff members. No staff member may use more than five of the extra days, he said. Young said that having in-district personnel was a cost savings for London- derry. “If we had to con- tract these services out, we would be spending twice as much,” he said. “They are ‘critical

shortage’ areas and diffi- cult to fill,” board mem- ber Ron Campo said. Superintendent Nate

Greenberg described the range of duties in an Allied Health position,

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from teaching a child to tie a shoe to grasping a pencil to helping children with significant physical disabilities to increase their range of motion and build strength in their limbs. “The intent,” he said, “is to put the stu- dent in a position where they can benefit from an educational experience. If you can’t hold a pencil or work a keyboard, how can you learn?”

The contract will be discussed by voters at the Feb. 10 deliberative ses- sion and voted on in the March 13 elections.

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