Wilkinsburg furloughs 11 teachers, appoints acting superintendent

The Wilkinsburg school board swallowed a bitter pill Tuesday when it approved a $27.7 million budget that furloughs 11 teachers, two guidance counselors, two secretaries and a custodian to free up funds to make improvements to the curriculum in grades 7-12.

The budget further reduces the teaching staff by not including replacements for five other teachers who are retiring.

Board president Ed Donovan said the creation of the furlough list was “a complicated and painful process.”

Substantial enrollment drops in the district and curtailment or reduction of programs prompted the job reductions. They leave about 110 teachers for the district’s 877 students.

The board also approved the appointment of Linda Hippert, executive director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, as the acting superintendent effective July 1, to replace Donna Micheaux, who was hired in March but recently accepted a position as deputy superintendent at Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Mrs. Hippert will provide her services to the district at no cost while it searches for a permanent replacement.

The budget, which holds taxes at 32.63 mills, calls for the district to merge the teaching staffs of the middle school and high school and offer a more substantial and varied curriculum.

Currently, there are no honors or advanced placement courses or upper level science, math, English or foreign language courses.

As part of the consolidation of grades 7-12, the board voted to create the position of assistant middle/​high school principal with a salary range from $55,000-$65,000 and to post the position.

It then approved a motion to inform current middle school principal Candee Hovis that “basis may exist to reassign” her to the new position.

Current high school principal Steve Puskar will be the principal of the new middle/high school program.

The board also created the position of chief academic officer effective July 1, with a salary to be determined based upon the candidate’s education level and experience.

Mr. Donovan said the position will be similar to a curriculum director but with more responsibility.

Of the 11 teachers furloughed, the breakdown is four special education, one librarian, one reading specialist, three elementary education and one health and science teacher. Of the five who are retiring and won’t be replaced, there are two elementary teachers, one special education, one literacy coach and one secondary music education.

Mary Niederberger: mniederberger@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1590. First Published June 24, 2014 9:55 PM

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