Director of Student Services Michael Nelson, the head of the Special Education Department, was appointed to the new position of assistant superintendent of teaching, learning, and student services on October 23 during the joint meeting of the Old Rochester Regional School Committee and Superintendency Union #55.
Nelson will assume the vacancy left by Elise Frangos, the retired assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
The appointment was swiftly approved by the ORR School Committee, but was met with some opposition on the Superintendency Union side.
Rochester School Committee member Anne Fernandes asserted that the joint committees had agreed last year that school administrators would assume the professional development aspect of Frangos’ position temporarily so that the assistant superintendent position could eventually be filled by whoever is appointed as the new superintendent.
“This is not about Mr. Nelson,” said Fernandes. “Mr. Nelson is top notch. It’s about the process that we had put into place months ago.
“I think the process should remain as it was stated the first time around and that the new superintendent do his or her own choosing,” she said. “I think we should stick to the original plan.”
Fernandes said she preferred the addition of the term “interim” in the motion to appoint Nelson to the assistant superintendent position, to which Superintendency Union and Rochester School Committee Chairman Sharon Hartley agreed.
“I would add that [Superintendent Doug White] had strongly stated to us… that we wait and allow the next superintendent to make the decision about an assistant superintendent,” said Hartley.
Fernandes thought that making the position temporary “shows respect for the long and hard work that we made to creating the plan.”
Nonetheless, both the ORR School Committee and the Superintendency Union voted in favor of appointing Nelson, 7-0 and 5-3, respectively.
“I appreciate the support of the committee and the superintendent and my colleagues,” said Nelson, “and I will continue to serve the district to the best of my ability moving forward, so thank you very much.”
The next joint meeting of the Old Rochester Regional School Committee and Superintendency Union #55 is scheduled for December 12 at 6:30 pm in the ORR Junior High School media room.
Joint Meeting of the School Committees
By Jean Perry