The School Committee's last meeting Dec. 12 featured a change of title for School Department secretary Kim Blais, who works in the Superintendent's office.
"Ms. Blais has diligently worked for the Woonsocket Education Department for the past five years in the capacity as secretary to the superintedent's office," read Superintendent Giovanna Donoyan to the School Committee. "Her dedication and knowledge of WED (Woonsocket Eductation Department) operations and attending to confidential school, employee and student issues has been exemplary."
Donoyan reccomended changing Blais's title to "confidential secretary to the superintendent," which she described as a lateral move, involving no pay increase.
Blais's position was listed as secretary to the deputy superintendent in the school department budget. The $40,802 line item generated some discussion during a July Budget Commission meeting. Mayor Leo Fontaine pointed out at the time that the district has not had a deputy superintendent for six years.
School Committe member Anita McGuire-Forcier explained at the time that Blais had taken on the duties of the superintendent's secretary, running the office and keeping minutes of School Committee meetings, since the departure of the deputy superintendent. Blais also operates as a floating secretary, helping principals and directors throughout the district.
The Committee approved the change in Blais's title. On Dec. 13, the Budget Commission approved the change.
After a brief discussion, the Committee also tabled a plan to create a dean of students position to help handle the leadership of Woonsocket Middle School, where Principal Patrick McGee has recently been promoted to Director of Curriculumn. "As you can guess, Dr. McGee's new position provides an opportunity for new leadership at Woonsocket Middle School," Donoyan said.
Donoyan suggested naming Special Education administrator Rick Ferguson dean of students for both the Villanova and Hamlet buildings. Ferguson, said School Committee member Chris Roberts, makes about $70,000 currently.
Ferguson, Donoyan said, would handle discipline at both Middle School buildings, while current Assistant Principals Rob Picard and Steve Boss would be named co-principals, and each given a $6,000 stipend. Picard, a 10-month principal, would be promoted to a 12-month principal, giving him another $12,000. The plan would effectively add $20,000 to Picard's salary, Roberts said, taking medical benefits into account.
"This position does not exist and there is no job description," Roberts said of the dean of students title. Also, "I can't wrap my head around anybody making $20,000 more next year in our current state," Roberts said, referring to the School Deparment's deficit.
Roberts also said that while he liked the idea of having co-principals run the Middle School, he was not comfortable with paying a dean of students in the $70,000 range. Roberts said he felt that job's salary range would be about $40,000. Also, he said, they would have to figure out how to fill Ferguson's current position if he were moved.
After the meeting, Roberts and McGuire-Forcier also expressed concern about Ferguson's ability to effectively administer discipline in two buildings.
The School Committee voted to table the suggestion pending further study.