LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid school board took another step to stabilize the leadership situation at the middle-high school Wednesday night, appointing John Fremante as temporary dean of students.
The board also voted to make Rick Retrosi interim principal of grades 6 through 12, following Greg Camelo's December decision to step down as interim high school principal. Retrosi had been serving as interim middle school principal. The district will continue to look for an interim principal for grades 9 through 12 to serve for the remainder of the year.
District Superintendent Randy Richards said Fremante's presence will allow Retrosi and elementary school Principal Javier Perez to focus on Annual Professional Performance Review evaluations.
"We need to wrap some support around them and make sure that they're not getting hung up on all the traditional (administrative tasks)," Richards said.
The board voted unanimously to appoint Fremante as dean of students at the elementary and middle-high schools. His appointment took effect Wednesday and will last until the end of the school year. He will be paid $215.86 per day over that time period for a total of about $39,000.
"This is a temporary (appointment)," school board President Mary Dietrich said, "only for the rest of this year. It's a Band-Aid to resolve issues that have arisen for this year only. I think that needs to be very clearly stated and understood."
Board member Herb Stoerr appeared to be frustrated with the leadership situation at the middle-high school.
"We're doing situational fixes," he said.
Dietrich said Stoerr is correct. She said the decision to bring in a dean is a temporary fix, but a necessary one because Retrosi and Perez need to focus their attention on evaluations, which can require up to 11 hours of observation per teacher.
Stoerr and board member Patti Gallagher suggested that the board get to work immediately on selecting a leadership model at the middle-high school. In the past, the school has had a principal and assistant principal, but the recent set-up - with Camelo as high school principal and Retrosi as middle school principal - has drawn praise from teachers and parents. The board has repeatedly stated that it wants to talk about which model it wants to use in the future, but so far that discussion hasn't taken place.
"So when are we going to have a final discussion on what our future organizational structure should look like?" Stoerr asked.
Dietrich suggested that the board talk about the leadership model during budget talks, but Gallagher said she thinks a separate focus session needs to happen - and soon.
"We need to set a date," she said. "I think we need to have a date in January. I think that would include feedback from the administrators, separate from budget."
"I agree," Stoerr said.
Dietrich said she will schedule a focus session for this month.
For now, Fremante will work at the middle-high school. If the district finds a new interim high school principal, then Fremante would be used at the elementary school, too.
Fremante has worked as a substitute teacher at the school district for a number of years. He's also the director of the Shipman Youth Center, and he works with the North Elba summer youth program. He has a master's degree in elementary education.
The board also voted Wednesday to accept Camelo's resignation. Before Christmas break, Richards said he reached out to area superintendents, asking for potential interim principal candidates.
"We got three or four responses back," he said. "They're pretty varied, all the way from a steely veteran to a newbie."
Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.