JAY — A move from full time to half time for a secretary at Spruce Mountain Primary School to fill a half-time position at the central office was questioned Thursday by directors of Regional School Unit 73.

Interim Superintendent Robert Webster told the board Sherri Couture has been working part time at the primary school and part time at the central office for the past two weeks.

“Once the school year is over, her intent is to work part time at the central office,” he said. “I’ve asked Spruce Mountain Primary School Principal Kevin Harrington to see how 1½ secretaries works.”

Webster said the primary school and the high school each had two full-time secretaries. With Couture working half time, the primary school, which has the largest enrollment of the four district schools, is left with 1 1/2 secretarial positions.

“The age of the students at the primary school takes more intensive work than at the high school,” Webster said. “(Harrington) and I will make a decision on that after school lets out in June.”

Director Doug DiPasquale asked if it made more sense to take a secretary from the high school.

Director Denise Rodzen said: “The central office has the lowest enrollment. The schools should be keeping their secretaries.”

Rodzen suggested current staff at the central office, such as the person in charge of payroll, take on additional secretarial duties.

Webster said he would prefer to wait until the trial period is over before discussing it.

He said Couture has been working on the filing backlog. He did not have a job description for the position at the central office but would make one available.

“My kids go to the primary school,” DiPasquale said. “I see how hectic it is there. I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Laura White, who became the administrative assistant earlier this year, said the half-time person is needed.

“I can’t keep my head above water without that person,” she said.

Rodzen said the secretaries are going full pace all the time in the schools.

“It’s crazy to think of eliminating a secretary at either school,” she said.

Board member Tammy Frost said she had heard from the secretaries there aren’t enough. She suggested using a long-term substitute as an alternative.

Rodzen said the board changed the position from full to half time when it was first suggested.

“When we asked to have that position taken out of the budget, it was met with opposition,” she said. “It was supposed to be a short-term thing.”

Former board member Shari Ouellette said: “A budget freeze doesn’t negate salaries. If the position is in the budget, that’s not a way to save money.”

Director Ann Schwab asked if there had been other applicants for the position.

Webster said he had interviewed other applicants.

In other business, the board authorized Chairman Robert Staples to research and speak with town selectmen about aligning the votes for open board member seats.

Webster noted it was Teacher Appreciation Week.

“The teachers, education technicians and others are the heart and soul of what goes on in these buildings. I can’t emphasize enough how important they are,” he said.

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