Coupeville shuffles school administrators

For the past five years, Glenda Merwine has been principal at Coupeville Elementary School. However, she will change job positions this summer and become the new director of student learning for Coupeville School District.

That is one of several administrative changes taking place this summer. Officials hope those changes will help improve student achievement and free more time for principals to provide classroom support.

“We can make this work and go after the last 30 percent of kids and bring them to standard,” Superintendent Bill Myhr said during the Monday evening Coupeville School Board meeting.

As the new student learning director, Merwine is responsible for researching and developing curriculum for all grade levels. She is also responsible for student assessment in accordance with state and federal laws.

“Many districts have this position and they’re able to look at curriculum and assessment from a K-12 perspective,” Merwine said.

While working as principal, Merwine implemented a new math curriculum last year at the elementary school and she is implementing a new science curriculum for all schools. That project should be complete next year. She implemented the curriculum in addition to her duties as principal.

The addition of the director position gives principals more time to support teachers.

Merwine’s new position also gives her a chance to mentor new principals, which she’ll do in the next several months.

Students will see new principals when they start classes next school year.

Phyllis Textor, principal at the middle and high school, is resigning this summer to become principal at Sehome High School in Bellingham. Her position was split into two positions — a middle school principal and a high school principal.

David Ebersole, the current assistant principal at the middle and high school, was named principal at the middle school. School district officials are searching for a new high school principal and a new elementary school principal.

In addition to the student learning director position, the school district will also name a dean of students. Myhr said the dean will handle student attendance and discipline issues in school and at events. That position gives the secondary school principals more time to support teachers and students.

Several school board members questioned whether the district’s budget can handle additional administrative staff, especially since the school district’s budget is based on enrollment projections that can fluctuate each year.

“The districts on either side of us have lost students and I’m concerned that it will hit us,” board member Kathleen Anderson said.

The school district will spend between $78,000 and $93,000 in salary and benefits for the student learning director position. The Dean of Students would replace a security monitor position but the district will see a $9,000 increase for that position.

Myhr said the district’s budget situation improved over the past couple of years. Enrollment numbers are 53 students higher than originally projected and enrollment has increased over the last three years. The district also has a $900,000 reserve and it is receiving additional money from the state.

He added that the changes meet the school district’s staffing needs.

To deal with any unexpected enrollment changes, the school board put a 33-student cushion into the motion approving the administrative additions. That way the district’s budget would account for enrollment reductions.

For Merwine to take over as student learning director, the school district also has to find a qualified candidate for the elementary school principal. Myhr said the district has already received good response from the job postings.

Eleven candidates have applied for the high school position and seven have applied for the elementary school position. He hopes to have a new high school principal named on June 10 and an elementary school principal named on June 20.

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