No deputy, no problem: Prospect school adjusts to position loss

Long River Middle School in Prospect. Republican-American archives

By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

PROSPECT — The elimination of the assistant principal position at Long River Middle School seems to be working out, according to school officials.

The Region 16 Board of Education, which serves students in Prospect and Beacon Falls, previously reduced the assistant principal role from a full year to a 10-month position before unanimously approving to eliminate the position before the start of the school year. The main reason for the elimination was due to a reduction of students according to Board of Education Chairman Robert A. Hiscox.

Hiscox said the administrative role was removed due to a combination of things and school board members felt the school could be run efficiently without the position.

“It was budget savings. By eliminating the position, we reduced the staff costs,” Hiscox said. “It’s a typical thing school districts do when the population reduces.”

Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin said at the school board meeting on Jan. 26, there were about 575 middle school students when Long River Middle School Principal Derek Muharem began his position about six years ago. Estimated numbers show there will be about 425 kids for the next school year, Yamin added.

Muharem said during the meeting that he couldn’t be prouder of how things are going at the school.

“I feel very confident how things are going with evaluations,” Muharem said.

The middle school has complementary observers that come in for support and do teacher evaluations. There are some teachers who are certified to do evaluations as well, according to Muharem.

Muharem said hasn’t missed team meetings and still has leadership team meetings monthly and feels more grounded in the work that goes on at the middle school.

Michael Yamin. Archive

“I feel like I have a real bead on everything whereas when we had the assistant principal, some things were deferred to that position but now I’m more involved in all the curriculum areas which I’m really happy about,” Muharem said.

Muharem said he hasn’t received any phone calls from parents or emails from teachers or community members indicating that the position is warranted back.

The school’s discipline numbers are also down this year according to Muharem.

“We just had our last report come out. Suspensions, detentions, bus referrals, we’re not seeing it,” Muharem said. “From last year to this year, they’re good.”

“The instructional piece, the management piece of the building, supervising teachers, all that stuff is getting done,” Muharem added.

Muharem said in the future, the school district may look into adding a dean of students, someone who can come in for about four hours to help support the school’s work.

Yamin said the school building is running well but school officials may explore options to add a part time administrator in the next couple of years after school officials look at the numbers at the time.

“It might be nice to have someone come in, not really a teacher, maybe a part time administrator, a couple hours a day just to help with the cafe duty and the building management because as far as a full-time administrator, $140,000 or $130,000, I don’t think we need that,” Yamin said at the school board meeting.

Muharem said there has been no detrimental effect with the elimination of the position.

“When we made the decision last year to eliminate the position, it was somewhat controversial. Parents were concerned,” Hiscox said at the meeting. “I have not heard anything from parents this year regarding that decision but we did say that we are going to monitor it during the course of the year.”