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Grand Island Board of Education: BOE declines to extend Lawrence's contract

by jmaloni

•Taken from the June 26 Island Dispatch

Fri, Jun 26th 2015 08:35 pm

By Larry Austin

Island Dispatch Editor

Without discussion, before or after voting, the Grand Island Board of Education declined to give Superintendent of Schools Teresa Lawrence a contract extension at Monday's board meeting.

After a more than three-hour meeting, Board of Education President Lisa Pyc asked for and received a motion to comply "with a requirement of section 13 of the employment contract with the superintendent, that the board vote not to extend the contract with the superintendent beyond its current expiration date of June 30, 2016."

Pyc, and trustees Karen Carroll, Sue Marston, Paul Krull and Donna Tomkins, voted yes to not extend Lawrence's contract, while trustees Matt Green and Glenn Bobeck voted no.

Trustees after the meeting were reluctant to discuss the matter. Bobeck declined to give a reason for his vote. Pyc said she wouldn't remark on a contractual matter. Carroll said to share the discussion of the decision, much of which took place in executive session, "would be inappropriate."

"That was part of the executive conversation. That, I won't share. The vote speaks for itself, and that was done because that is the language of her contract," Carroll said.

"I just thought it was the wrong decision to make right now," Green said of his opposition vote. "I didn't feel it was the right time to do that."

Marston said at a later date the board could negotiate a new contract or still extend Lawrence's current contract. There are no negotiations going on and neither the superintendent nor the board proffered a contract proposal, trustees said.

Lawrence, in a letter to the Dispatch Tuesday, said, "While I am disappointed in these recent developments, I am proud of the things we have been able to accomplish together during my tenure to date as superintendent of schools. These include:

"Vision planning around eight themes have been identified to ensure our district's sustainability and growth. The themes include: 1) safety, 2) infrastructure investment, 3) financial stability, 4) relationships/social capital, 5) capacity, 6) adaptability, 7) academic programs and 8) student success and wellness.

"Two school budgets, which strengthen our district's programs, ensure financial stability and reflect community values, were passed by wide margins.

"An additional $1,072,744 in building aid for the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) addition was secured after I initiated a meeting with officials in Albany to address their concerns and present our case.

"Curricula have been aligned to provide multiple pathways to graduation that maximize our community's investment in the STEM addition.

"Legal costs have been reduced by 70 percent.

"Two new contracts, one with our administrators' association and one with our central office administrators, increase employee contributions to health insurance to 13 percent and 15 percent respectively.

"Rigorous and fair hiring processes have been established and consistently applied resulting in high quality hires across the district.

"A renewed focus on student safety produced an evacuation plan for the Ransom Road complex.

"Strong positive relationships have been built with students, employees, families and town officials.

"A $51 million capital project, which includes significant improvements to our classrooms and athletic facilities, is forecast to be completed on time and within budget."

Lawrence also noted what she called challenges facing the district.

"On the eve of my arrival, a contract between the Grand Island Teachers' Association and district, which had been negotiated by the interim superintendent, did not receive board approval. The sides remain far apart on money-related issues, including salary and health insurance.

Six administrators and supervisors have left for promotional opportunities and three others have retired or will retire at the end of this school year. Turnover can be stressful for any organization, but with the recruitment and selection process we put in place, we have hired strong, capable and skillful leaders who continue to help move our district forward," Lawrence said.

"As of July 1, 2015, our seven-person school board will have had 12 different members over the last two plus years, with five of the seven board members in their first term.

"Under my leadership, the focus has been, and will continue to be, providing the highest quality, well-rounded and cost-effective education for all our students. With the investment made in our employees, program and organization, the Grand Island Central School District is prepared to meet this focus. I remain committed to working with our Board of Education to carry out the work and achieve the goals we set together. As always, I do this work with integrity, purpose and collaboratively with the best interest of our students in mind."

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