Freeport teachers displeased with new leadership structure

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FREEPORT — Some high school teachers are objecting to a shift to a district-wide leadership team that they say is failing.

They claim the process was flawed and the change will have a negative impact on students.

The teachers outlined their concerns in an unsigned letter addressed to Superintendent of Schools Shannon Welsh, members of the Regional School Unit 5 board of directors and the RSU 5 community. One teacher provided a copy to The Forecaster.

In the letter, the high school teachers claim that without proper leadership there have been problems with lunch supervision, student independent study proposals, and that new teachers have been “falling through the cracks and are uninformed about how the school operates.”

“Our greatest frustration is the fact that we are currently redesigning our leadership structure two months after the start of the school year,” the teachers said. “We believe that the lack of teacher leadership thus far has already impacted our students.”

Welsh on Tuesday said she understands the teachers’ frustration, but faced restrictions when trying to schedule meetings over the summer.

“It took us two months to fill positions and negotiate the stipend (for leaders),” Welsh said. “In that time we have not had teacher leadership but for a few people who have stepped up to help. This has been a one-time experience and now the work is complete.”

The change stems from a shift in teacher leadership throughout the district, she said. Previously, Freeport High School and the middle school had leadership teams, but part of the RSU 5 board’s strategic plan is to develop teacher leadership across the district.

The teachers said the leadership system in place at the high school for years included a Faculty Council for overall school and student life and Curriculum Council for departments, budgets and academic issues.

Welsh said the new plan would combine the two leadership groups because they are already interconnected. 

“The curriculum drives the schedule,” Welsh said. “There cannot be one without the other. Our goal is to develop teacher leadership and have teachers understand curriculum and scheduling throughout the district.”

Welsh said the ultimate goal is to create a district-wide leadership team so that teacher leaders from each school can meet and discuss professional development, resources and what is needed to teach effectively across the district.

The letter claims the “one, new leadership team is much more amorphous and district based. While we are not afraid of change, we are concerned about change that does not value student needs first and foremost.”

The RSU 5 board was expected to vote to adopt the new leadership positions at its meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net

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