Brunswick schools add teachers, restore jobs
BRUNSWICK — When local schools open, parents and students will be greeted by about two dozen new faces, and a few familiar ones in different roles.
Greg Bartlett, assistant superintendent of schools, said this is the first time in several years the School Department has seen such a large influx of new hires, especially teachers.
"The last four or five years, we had budget cuts, so we were reducing positions," Bartlett said. "This is the first year in five years where our budget passed and we were able to add a few positions we weren't able to in the past."
While about 16 teachers have been hired to replace those who either resigned, retired or transferred, two others have been hired to take behavior interventionist roles that were recently reinstated by the School Board.
Paul Perzanoski, superintendent of schools, said the the board agreed to reinstate the two positions this summer because behavioral problems for students didn't go away when the positions were eliminated due to budget cuts in 2010.
"What we found is the need never went away, but increased," said Perzanoski, who previously worked at a day treatment for adolescents, a psychiatric hospital, and as a director of special education services in another school system.
He said the behavior interventionists will be focused on younger students at Harriet Beecher Stowe and Coffin elementary schools. The two staff members will be complimented by the work of the department's school psychologists.
"There are some kids who are not ready for school or have a mental health issue when they come to us," Perzanoski said. "So it's important for our staff to be ready to deal with the ramifications of mental, social or emotional difficulties."
On the administrative side of staff changes, Brunswick High School's leadership will look slightly different than it did last spring and will likely change again by the end of the year.
After high school Principal Art Abelmann abruptly resigned in May, Assistant Principal Donna Borowick agreed to delay her retirement and become interim principal for the rest of the calendar year.
Borowick said this September will mark her 25th year with the School Department, while having worked in education for about four decades.
"It feels funny because it's the second time I've reached the final stretch," she said. "I have enjoyed my years in Brunswick and will miss it when I leave, but I think it’s time to move on and do some other things."
The interim principal will be joined by former technology educator Tim Gagnon, the high school's new assistant principal.
Borowick said out of the many opportunities the School Department granted her, the one that excited her the most professionally was the establishment of the high school's academy for at-risk ninth- and 10th-grade students.
Entering its fifth year, she said, the academy is coming off the success of graduating 29 of the academy's first 36 students.
"We've had a number of the graduates go on to college," Borowick said.
She said the academy is structured to give at-risk students a learning environment that provides more flexibility and mentor-like relationships, though the program's subject matter is largely the same as mainstream classes.
"We've put together some programs where classes are shorter in length, teachers are focused on them and the parents are invovled quite a bit," Borowick said.
In the meantime, the School Department has stopped accepting applications for a permanent principal position and will begin the interview process soon.
Perzanoski said an interview committee comprised of School Board members, school staff and citizens will factor in a community survey published on the School Department's website when considering potential candidates.
The superintendent said he expects the process to conclude with the possible hiring of a new, full-time principal by November.