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Worcester school board says farewells, approves fiscal plans

(June 21, 2013) Tuesday’s Worcester County Board of Education meeting was marked with a host of farewells amid business as the summer brings turnover of students and staff.

School Board President Robert Rothermel Jr. said the meeting was “like a bon voyage party,” sending off Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. John Gaddis, among others.

Gaddis will leave Worcester schools to become superintendent of Somerset County schools July 1. He has been in the county schools for 22 years as an elementary school teacher, principal and coordinator of technology.

“I had a wonderful experience here,” Gaddis said after the meeting. “I’m excited for the challenges of being in a new system.”

Worcester County’s three student representatives on the Board of Education also attended their last meeting as members. Robert Stancil of Pocomoke High School, William Wangel of Stephen Decatur High School and Kellee Toler of Snow Hill High School graduated this year and were awarded plaques for their school board service.

Aside from adieus, the school board passed several plans, including the 2013-2014 Educational Facilities Master Plan. It includes provisions to keep the construction and renovation project at Snow Hill High School on schedule to start construction in January 2014 and to do an architectural and engineering feasibility study at Showell Elementary School to prepare for future renovations.

The board also passed its fiscal year 2014 operating budget, which includes a 1.5 percent increase in bus drivers’ pay, a one-time provision of $30,000 to increase Worcester schools’ broadband capacity, a one-time provision of $100,000 to go towards the Showell Elementary feasibility study, and $700,000 in additional budget reductions and realignments.

The board approved an agreement made between teachers and staff that provides an incremental increase in salary based on qualifying experience and a 1 percent increase for employees beyond that.

One member of the public spoke at the meeting, voicing concerns over plans to roll out the Common Core State Standards, a national set of benchmarks for K-12 students, next school year.

“Eighty percent of the public knows very little about Common Core,” he said. Taxpayers “are entitled to be informed.”

He requested a series of forums on the Common Core standards, preferably in the evening so parents can attend after work, though Rothermel noted later that holding meetings in the evening has not increased attendance in the past.

The next Worcester County School Board meeting will be July 16 at 12:30 p.m. Those wishing to comment for more than two minutes should contact the superintendent’s office by July 11 so their items can be included on the agenda.

Snow Hill High School graduate Kellee Toler, center, receives an award from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerry Wilson, left, and School Board President Robert Rothermel Jr. for being a student representative on the board of education during her senior year.

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