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School Changes Administrative Shuffle Due
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Some administrative changes will be implemented for the 2010-2011 school year in the Escalon Unified School District, with a shared principalship at Dent Elementary, the filling of a vacant assistant superintendent position and the reassignment of duties for curriculum and special education.

District Superintendent Dave Mantooth said the changes have been discussed with the staff they impact, as well as a memo sent to all teachers in the district detailing the changes.

The most significant change impacts Dent Elementary, where current Vista and Van Allen principal Scott Ferreira will join the team, serving as principal for fourth and fifth grades at Dent. He will continue on at Van Allen but will drop the Vista assignment. Current Dent Principal Kendra Helsley will continue to serve at Dent as well, reassigned as principal for the kindergarten through third grade level.

Current Dent assistant principal Trish Anderson will move to El Portal Middle School to take over the same position, assistant principal, there for the next school year, working with principal Mark Vos.

"The district has been reviewing a number of areas in which to make cuts to deal with the current and future budget situation," Mantooth wrote in his memo that was distributed to all staff members.

The change, and some additional reassignment of duties will translate into cutting the equivalent of two administrative staff positions, with a savings of more than $180,00 when salary and benefits are figured in.

Just two years ago, the district had 12 full time equivalent administrative staff, four at the District Office and eight at the various school sites, and two full time equivalent psychologists. A year and a half ago, when the assistant superintendent left the district for another position and earlier this year, when the Director of Administrative Services assumed another position, those jobs were not filled. Other staff picked up the duties.

Now, an assistant superintendent will be brought back but some of the other jobs will be parceled out to existing staff, including Lisa Cheney, a district psychologist who will assume some new responsibilities as Director of Special Education.

Director of Curriculum and Special Education Linda Frontz is retiring at the end of the year and her position will not be replaced as it is; the work will be parceled out, with Cheney taking on the special education and the superintendent and assistant superintendent working in the curriculum area.

"The assistant superintendent will be one of the key pieces," Mantooth said, noting that will mean an entirely new leadership for the district.

Newly hired Ron Costa takes over as superintendent upon Mantooth's retirement at the end of June and Costa will work with the district on finding an assistant superintendent.

"I expect that by the end of this week, we will be advertising for that position and we will be very specific in the job duties," Mantooth noted.

The change at Dent, meanwhile, is the biggest difference, with two principals on the same site, working with different grade levels.

"Kendra's specialty area is with K-3 and fourth and fifth grade is where Scott taught," Mantooth said of putting the pieces together. "I believe very strongly that Scott and Kendra will be a good team and it will be good for Dent."

Escalon High School administrators Joel Johannsen and Dave Lattig will pick up duties at Vista High.

Meanwhile, teachers were scheduled to vote Tuesday on a possible reduction in the school calendar of five days, to help make up the budget shortfall. Results were not available at press time.

Mantooth said the latest changes are designed to help save money but continue to keep the district operating effectively.

"My goal during the past couple of years has been to leave the district able to deal with the changing financial situation now and in the future," Mantooth wrote in his memo. "The Board and I appreciate all of the efforts by staff members to deal with the ongoing struggles in a positive and professional manner."