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Dressel in, Gunther out as president of Somerset Board of Education

Nancy Dressel

By a vote of 4-3, Nancy Dressel replaced Bob Gunther as President of the Somerset District Board of Education at its meeting Monday, May 15. The change at the top took place on the spot as Gunther relinquished his gavel (responsibilities) immediately following the vote requiring Dressel to complete the remaining items on the evening's agenda.

Also elected were: Marie Colbeth, vice president; Katie Thurmes , clerk; and Courtney Kurkowski, treasurer.

With an agenda light on items to discuss, board members concentrated on 2017-2018 staffing recommendations put forward by Superintendent Mark Bezek.

Thurmes initially suggested postponing the approval of the superintendent's recommendations until further discussion could take place.

Dressel added that she was uncomfortable approving the recommendations to add an assistant principal and a mindfulness coordinator without more information. Among other things, Dressel asked to see detailed job descriptions, proposed salaries for each position, analysis of how the costs for each position will impact the budget and for how long, and how the effectiveness of each position will be measured versus the cost for each.

"There was a specific question (on the last referendum) about additional staffing that asked our community specifically if they would consider referendum dollars for additional positions such as assistant principals, peer coaches and technology integration specialists. I think we need to be very thoughtful about what information we receive and how we can communicate the need for these positions to our community and how it is impacting our budget," said Dressel.

The board approved the addition of a .5 FTE special services support person for a new kindergarten section, a 1.0 support staff for the alternative/virtual education program which had been left unfilled last year, and two core math teachers at the middle school.

The remaining staff recommendations are to be discussed further at a special meeting, date to be determined.

Board members recognized students from the What You Need Now (WYNN) program for gifted students lead by elementary teacher Kay Vater.

"I have a lot of rock stars here today that I want to recognize," Vater said.

WYNN students took the Noetic Math Learning Exam about a month ago after studying for it for six weeks, once a week. About 32,000 students across the country took the exam.

"I've been doing this for three years and I've been seeing scores around 50," Vater said. "Fifty is average in the gifted world. That's awesome! These kids just rocked it out."

Alex Caroon got one wrong on the exam and scored a 95.