Recently I wrote a letter to the editor of this newspaper, wherein, I summarized my unsuccessful effort to ascertain the depth of the teacher attrition rate in the Hicksville School District. If the replacement rate for teachers is the same as the "turnover rate" for business managers, the district is in serious trouble.
In September 1997, Deputy Superintendent for Administration Bob Durso, who served as business manager, announced his retirement. He agreed to stay with the district until the end of the year to train Frank Fiumano who had been hired as the new business manager. In August 1999, Mr. Fiumano resigned and Bob Durso was rehired on an interim basis until a suitable replacement could be found. In the early part of the year 2000, Diane McWilliams was hired to replace Mr. Durso. She resigned in less than one year. Her replacement was Robert McKeen who is currently serving as "interim administrative liaison." His title implies that he will be leaving soon.
In approximately three years the position of business manager has been vacated four times. Those who held this "well paid position" were all qualified and competent administrators who appeared to be performing well above standards. Why did they choose to leave? Were there personality conflicts with senior administrative staff? It was rumored that one feared being made a scapegoat for the mistakes of others.
I was present at the most recent school board meeting in the high school auditorium. Many teachers were also in attendance. The interaction between some board members and teachers left no doubt that a great deal of animosity exists between the Hicksville Congress of Teachers and the administration/school board. The root cause of this mutual feeling of distrust and ill will runs much deeper than the current labor contract stalemate.
The members of the school board better wake up and face the district's employee relation problems before our once great school system is completely destroyed.
Thomas J. Walsh