SPRINGVILLE—The Springville-Griffith Institute board of education heard from a variety of community members at their Aug. 19 meeting.
Ranging from student-athletes to parents to staff spouses the public expression period brought a range of concerns to the board. Two varsity baseball players, Kyle McCarthy and Kyle Crotty, spoke on behalf of their team and their former coach Ron Tamraz.
Tamraz, who has worked in the district for 28 years, has coached the varsity team for the last 15 years. At the Aug. 5 meeting, the board did not approve Tamraz for another year, asking for more information before making their final vote. Because it is a spring appointment, there is no immediate rush to take action, according to Superintendent Paul Connelly.
Tammy Sherwood spoke to the board regarding the recent recommendation of the capital project. Sherwood stated she attended the facilities review committee, which made the capital project recommendation, and felt there were some issues that should have been better looked at.
“I thought that the fact there is a dwindling student body was glossed over and the idea that buildings could be consolidated wasn’t explored,” Sherwood said. “I find it hard to believe that we’re in an agriculture area and in order to get the [multi-purpose] addition the orchard which recently started producing fruit has to be torn out.”
Sherwood also added that if a new multi-purpose room would attract students to the district then other districts that have added new gyms would have an influx of students, which isn’t the case.
“The school taxes are already so high and if they’re going to be raised, it should be for teachers and programs,” she concluded. “The proposed addition in its current location should be reconsidered and other options explored.”
Maggie Janick, president of the Service Employees International Union United 200, addressed the board asking why the summer hours of one nurse were cut. In June, the board approved three nurses for 42 hours of summer work and one nurse for 15 hours.
“Why are we spending an entire summer trying to fix an easy issue? Why were three nurses give 42 hours and one 15? Why did she [nursing supervisor] cut all the nurses to 15 hours, which is what I believe you’re going to be voting on,” Janick said. “Why are summer hours a privilege, they’re a necessity. I’d like to see the hours put back, if not all the nurses back to 42, at least to 30 hours.”
Janick explained that she spoke with Connelly previously and was asked to put her concerns in writing and send them to the board, and emailed them to the board before the Aug. 5 meeting. She was then recommended to “stop sending things to the board of education and run them through the chain of command,” according to Janick.
The SEIU states that nurses who are not being compensated for their time are a liability to the district, as they can not be held responsible for their work, according to Janick.
“These are professional women working for no money right now, some of them, do you think that’s fair, because I don’t,” she continued. “What’s best for the students is prepared nurses.”
Board member Mike Connors asked the board why there was a change from 141 total hours to 60 hours and if all the nurses were to be at 15 hours, would the students be walking into a safe and prepared school district.
Connelly explained that school nurses are not mandated under education laws and he felt that dropping the hours to 15 would not affect the safety of the district.
“It’s always been a really good, respectful relationship [between nurses and administration]. The role of a school nurse as well as a school administrator and district administrator has to be a one of a tight nature because of the issues they’re dealing with,” Connors said. “It seems a shame that because of all this turmoil...it may really put some needles into that, and I hope the district can rekindle the relationship between nurses and administration because it’s critical.”
The board discussed the matter in executive session and voted to move all the nurses to 20 summer hours.
“Related to the fact that there were steps, missteps, misques and miscommunication it has gone all over the board...it will give the nurses a chance to make up some time,” Connors said of the amendment.
Board president Alison Duwe added that it is critical that both parties continue to have discussions and find a way to have better trust and understanding.
“[This is] not a guarantee of what will happen in the future,” she said. “And those of us here this evening feel very strongly that these hours are important to the health and safety of the kids and to the professionals working in our building and truly respect the work that goes on.”
The next Springville-Griffith Institute board of education meeting wil be Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. in the high school library and media center.