The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

September 10, 2013

Leaders of school board, teachers union, agree mentoring should be reduced

DANVILLE — Leaders of both the school board and teacher’s union agree that there should be a reduction in the district’s three-year mentoring program, which this year carried a price tag of about $14,000.

Allan Schappert, president of the school board, and Dave Fortunato, president and head negotiator of the Danville Education Association, agree that the state-required minimum of one year of mentoring should be enough for most newly hired teachers.

Fortunato said that when he joined the district 17 years ago he greatly benefitted from the one-year mentoring program used at the time. “Adding two years would have been nothing more than a burden and would have taken time away from my preparation for classes,” he wrote via email.

Fortunato did, however, disagree with Schappert’s “condescending and negative remarks” towards the program, which were made at the Aug. 27 school board meeting.

At the meeting, Schappert referred to the program’s current three-year form as a waste of taxpayer dollars. “I see virtually no benefit,” said Schappert. He particularly called out the third year of the program, when teachers build a portfolio, calling it little more than a scrapbooking course.

“I’d like to think our people are a little more intelligent and have a better use of their time,” he said.

Schappert did praise curriculum director Dawn Brookhart for putting together an excellent educational curriculum, despite the three-year program written into the teacher contract.

While Fortunato agreed that he did not see much value in the three-year program, the proper place to hold such a discussion would be at the negotiation table and with the district’s superintendent, Cheryl Latorre, he said.

The program was put into the contract about seven to eight years, ago. Brookhart and subsequent administrators ended up inheriting the three-year mentoring program, Fortunato said.

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