Scarborough teachers vote no confidence in School Board

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SCARBOROUGH — Following continued public uproar over the resignation of Principal David Creech and changing school start times, the Scarborough Education Association March 30 said it has no faith in the School Board and superintendent of schools.

Nearly 70 percent of members voted no confidence, according to the teachers’ union.

Last month, high school teachers voted no confidence in Superintendent Julie Kukenberger’s leadership before a meeting was held where the board declined to reconsider the Feb. 16 resignation of Creech, who has claimed he was forced to resign.

It has been speculated Creech was punished for his support of staff members who opposed the school start time changes, which have since been amended.

The School Board and Kukenberger have said Creech’s resignation is a personnel issue that cannot be discussed publicly.

Petitioners submitted about 3,100 signatures last week to Town Clerk Tody Justice in an effort to recall three board members: Jodi Shea, Cari Lyford, and Chairwoman Donna Beeley. The signatures have not been certified by the clerk; if they are certified, the Town Council will hold a public meeting on the subject and a public vote will be scheduled.

Paul Johnson, one of the petitioners, said the drive is a strategic move to seat a board that will ultimately remove Kukenberger. Johnson said his group, Road to Renewal, believes Kukenberger and the board have demonstrated poor leadership and an unwillingness to listen to the community.

Union President Justin Stebbins, a high school foreign language teacher, said the school professional and support staff have no faith in Kukenberger and the board for the same reasons.

“The practice of consistently dismissing the input of the educational staff will not result in what is truly in the best interest of our students,” Stebbins said.

The union wants the administration to collaborate with teachers to construct a plan that maps out how staff will be included in policy conversations that affect the classroom.

In an effort to appease parents who said the school start time changes planned for the fall were too drastic, the board voted unanimously March 27 to amend the schedule. Proponents of the changes have said medical research shows later start times are healthier for adolescent development.

The start time change was initially approved a year ago, and would have had high school students starting at 8:50 a.m., middle school students at 9 a.m., and elementary school students at 8 a.m.

The compromise includes altering a three-phase bus system to two runs, having high school and middle school students start at 8 a.m., and having the school day begin at 8:50 a.m. for kindergarten through fifth-grade students.

Classes at the high school now begin at 7:35 a.m. The middle school starts at 7:45 a.m., students in grades 3-5 start at 8:20 a.m., and kindergarten through second-graders start at 8:50 a.m.

The School Board was scheduled to meet again Thursday, April 5, after The Forecaster’s deadline.

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or at jlaaka@theforecaster.net

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