Board to vote on eliminating positions

Northwestern board members are expected to vote tonight on a controversial decision to eliminate a position championed by some families.

The board will decide whether to eliminate the family liaison and middle school principal positions to prepare for the move from three to two buildings when Northwestern opens its new schools next fall, said Superintendent Tony Orr. The board will vote at 6 p.m. tonight in the auditorium at Northwestern High School.

“As we go to consolidate, we can still provide that same level of services, however we can do so efficiently,” he said. “We’ll be able to accommodate the same level of services with three licensed counselors.”

The family liaison position, held by Mark Greenberg, would be eliminated through a reduction-in-force if approved by the board.

“Like a licensed counselor, he offers counseling services and outreach to students and families for their emotional and social needs,” said Orr.

But some parents in the district believe Greenberg is a necessary support as more students face challenges at home because of the economy.

“Counselors tend to focus more on academics and testing, where he really truly does focus on the social issues,” said Trisha Elbin, a mother of three Northwestern students. “Public schools shouldn’t necessarily have to provide all these services but they do when it gets in the way of learning.”

Elbin said creating the family liaison position put the district “ahead of (its) time” in helping students navigate difficulties in and out of school.

The counselor load with three licensed counselors will be comparable to national averages and neighboring districts, as well as benchmark schools like Oakwood and Bellbrook, said Orr.

The board will also vote on a request from middle school Principal Matt Gerberick to take a one-year leave of absence. Orr recommended against it, saying the position isn’t needed with the consolidation. Gerberick has indicated to the district he will resign if his request is denied.

Eliminating the middle school principal and family liaison position would save the district about $160,000 a year in salary and benefits, Orr estimated.

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