LEWISTON — When school opens in the fall, Paul Amnott will be the Lewiston Middle School interim principal while Principal Shawn Chabot is deployed to Afghanistan.
Amnott, who retired in June as Lewiston High School's assistant principal, was unanimously approved for the one-year slot Monday night by the School Committee. Members heaped praised on Amnott, saying he's a perfect choice.
In recommending him, Superintendent Bill Webster said the department is lucky to have a candidate so familiar with Lewiston schools.
"With his level of experience, it'll make for a much smoother year," Webster said.
Committee members agreed. Tom Shannon praised Amnott for "his lifelong commitment to students. I'm happy to see him come back."
"I agree," Linda Scott said. "I can't think of a better person to come in."
"Thank you," Amnott said.
When he retired this past June, Amnott had 37 years working as a teacher and administrator in Lewiston schools.
The Auburn resident was hired in 1976 to teach eighth-grade math at Lewiston Junior High School. In 1982, he became a math teacher at Lewiston High; in 1989, the faculty manager of athletics; and in 1998, he became the athletic director. In 2005, Amnott was hired as assistant principal, retiring in 2012.
Webster has taken a public stand against "double dipping," or retiring and collecting a pension while still working in the same job and collecting a salary. This is not a case of double dipping that he's opposed to, Webster said.
Amnott left his job at the high school and is collecting a pension. The middle school job will not be the same one he had, and it's only temporary.
"We have a specific starting date and ending date," Webster said. "He'll be paid at a reduced rate." In this situation where the principal is returning, the school needs to continue with the path Chabot set.
"Paul's the perfect candidate," Webster said.
Chabot's deployment was announced in December. He is a member of the Maine Army National Guard and a medic with the 251st Engineer Co. in Norway.
Chabot said in December that he's “excited to do my part, to serve my country like thousands of other men and women have done."
But serving in Afghanistan won't be “like coming to school," he said. "It's hard to leave your family for a long time.” He stressed that many others are serving and making sacrifices. His unit will be deployed from about the fall of 2013 to the fall of 2014.
Ed tech labor contract approved
In other business, the School Committee unanimously approved a retroactive, two-year contract for ed techs who act as assistant teachers in Lewiston classrooms.
Lewiston has about 200 ed techs, Webster said. They will receive a 2 percent pay raise for last year and 2 percent for this year.
Jean Roy, Lewiston High Spanish teacher and president of the Lewiston Education Association (teachers union), said the ed techs have worked without a contract for three years.
"They're just trying to get caught up," she said. They worked without a contract because "money was very tight," and the ed techs and the administration weren't able to agree on pay raises.
The ed techs voted for the new contract last week. "People were pleased," Roy said.
In the new contract, the beginning pay for an ed tech I is $11.72 an hour. There are 16 pay steps, one for each year of experience. The top pay for an ed tech III with 16 years-plus experience is $18.32 an hour.
"It's difficult for a single parent to raise children" on the ed tech's salary, Roy said.
The 2 percent pay raises for each year will cost $70,000 and come from the contingency account in the budget, Webster said.