Parents, teachers, board prove to be knights in shining armor.

FARMINGTON – On Tuesday night, Cheryl Pike held her hands over her eyes as the verdict was read. She grinned and fought back tears when it was finally delivered – 11-2 with one abstaining and her job was saved.

The last month has been tough for Pike, a first-year principal at Cape Cod Hill School in New Sharon. In order to keep the SAD 9 budget low, Superintendent Michael Cormier had proposed cutting her job down to half-time, and streamlining the recertification coordinator position, a part-time position currently held by retired teacher Marilyn Hylan, so it would be turned over to Pike so she stays on as a full-time employee.

Earlier this month, the board tabled the vote on whether to keep Pike on full-time, deciding to hold out until more of the budget had been examined.

The total savings of eliminating Hylan and having Pike share part-time principal and coordination positions is about $23,000, Cormier said.

The CCHS 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. Nevertheless, parents, teachers and even students have been urging the district to keep both Pike and Hylan’s current positions as is.

“Even if the numbers aren’t there,” said board member Bob Flick, “the work is there and it needs to be done.”

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the board was given a petition signed by more than 200 New Sharon residents and CCHS parents to keep Pike on full-time and the board decided it was time to make a decision.

Board member Greg Webber of New Sharon was just one of the many board members in passionate favor of keeping Pike on board full-time, saying she was the “key to the quality of education” at the school. He suggested that because the district has recently received word of additional unanticipated funds from the state, that the money was there to save her job.

Even in tough economic times, $23,000 in savings is not enough, many board members said, to risk reducing the quality of education for area students.

“We need to take a stand on what’s best for the children,” said Director Raymond Glass, saying that Pike provided “good quality coverage” for CCHS students.

“I have a problem adding money to the budget,” said Francis Orcutt, board chairman, of committing to spend the unanticipated funds already. “We have a lot harder choices than this to make down the line.”

In the end, the board voted overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the positions as they are. Eleven voted in favor, with Orcutt and Teddy Ellis opposed and Joyce Morton abstaining.

“There were good deliberations,” said Pike after the vote, as co-workers congratulated her with hugs and praise. “I am glad they decided the way they did. I’ll have more time with kids, more time with the building and more time to really learn my job.”

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