FARMINGTON – The principalship at Cape Cod Hill School is in limbo despite a passionate plea from dozens of parents, teachers and students on Tuesday night at the SAD 9 board of directors meeting.

In order to keep the 2003-04 district budget at a minimal increase, superintendent Michael Cormier had proposed that the principal position at CCHS, held by Cheryl Pike, be cut down to half-time.

His proposal also calls for the recertification coordinator for the district, a part-time position currently held by retired teacher Marilyn Hylan, to be turned over to Pike so she stays on as a full-time employee.

The total savings of eliminating Hylan and having Pike share part-time principal and coordination positions is about $22,000, Cormier said.

The school has just over 200 students in grades K-5, more than 100 students shy of the state’s recommendation of 315 students per full-time principal.

The proposed district budget for the 2003-04 academic year would be $21,285,352, a 2.5 percent increase from last year’s $20,765,361 budget.

In response to Cormier’s proposal, dozens of concerned parents and teachers have rallied behind Pike, and on Tuesday night, they descended on the school board meeting, wearing green CCHS sweatshirts and seeking to convince to board to keep Pike on as a full-time principal and Hylan on as part-time coordinator.

“This is not a bargain basement with a two-for-one special,” parent Deb Kendall told the board. “Many of us, including myself, manage to live though a budget crisis every week. We do not dispute the necessity of a reduced budget, but this is not the place to make a cut. In order to continue the quality of education and to ensure the safety of all children, the principal position at CCHS needs to be full time.”

Other parents agreed, with Ashley Bessey going so far as to say, “My children aren’t part-time students and they don’t deserve a part-time administration.”

Pike said she was concerned about assuming two roles, saying it would take away from her time with the students. As a first-year principal, the former Mallett School teacher, said she was just learning her new job and was worried about learning another so quickly.

“Split business in an administration doesn’t work,” said board member Bob Flick. “I think it would be a mistake and the kids would suffer. I know we are saving money, but are we saving a little too much at the expense of the kids?”

While board members were in support of Pike, many agreed it was too early in the budgetary process to be making changes. But, Greg Webber, the only board member from New Sharon, said after hearing there were “sincere and valid” arguments from both sides.

He made a motion that an $80,000 increase from the original expected revenue from state subsidy for the district, recently announced by Cormier, be earmarked to keep Pike and Hylan in their positions.

Board member Neil Stinneford suggested that the motion be tabled until the board had a closer look at the entire budget and saw where increases and decreases could be made.

Webber countered, speaking of the turmoil the staff at CCHS is undergoing while waiting to hear about their principal’s fate. “They deserve to go away knowing the position of this board one way or another.”

After a logjam of motions and amendments, the board finally voted 10-5 in favor of tabling the motion until a later date. Flick, Webber, Allison Broome, Wanda Soule and Janis Stinson opposed the motion.

A frustrated Webber urged the supporters of Pike and Hylan to “stick tough” and keep pressing the issue on the board. Meanwhile, Pike, surrounded by her friends and colleagues, said she was just “overwhelmed with the marvelous support.”



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