Hammond school district reassigns administrators, some teachers

2014-06-16T01:00:00Z 2014-06-16T11:00:08Z Hammond school district reassigns administrators, some teachersCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | In January, the School City of Hammond notified five administrators they would be lose their positions because their schools were failing.

Those administrators and some teachers have been reassigned to new positions.

The principals at Edison, Harding, Hess and Irving elementary schools and Hammond High School were removed because of the state's new accountability rules.

Hammond schools Superintendent Walter Watkins said the district has 37 teacher and administrative retirements and had to fill some vacancies.

"We tried to place people in positions where they could use their talent, skills and ability," he said.

"We are struggling in a lot of ways financially, but we can't take our most valued resources -- our people -- and cut so deep that we can't meet the minimum state requirements."

The Indiana Department of Education placed several Hammond schools into two categories — focus and priority. A focus school has received a D for one year. A priority school has received an F for one year or a combination of two D grades, or D and F for two consecutive years.

The state directed those schools to use the turnaround process of school improvement, which means removing any principal who had been in charge of the school for the past three consecutive years.

Hammond has 904 teachers and 56 administrators. The School City of Hammond is now the largest school corporation in Northwest Indiana with more than 12,750 students.

Watkins said the state has given school districts more responsibilities and less money to work with, but "no matter what happens we have to find ways to support our schools, our teachers and our principals."

Watkins said he does not consider the reassignments a shuffling of questionable administrators and teachers. He said he has always been clear  that principals who were removed were talented and that those talents could be used in different capacities within the district.

"We are a large (school) corporation, and we have many roles to fill. We tried to match those principals in positions that could benefit the corporation," he said.

Watkins said key administrators are still working on the number of students who will be enrolled this fall. He said staffing needs have not been finalized.

Hammond School Board member George Janiec said running the school corporation is like any other business, with money invested in people and their professional development.

"It was the state who said we had to remove the employees," Janiec said. "We had a couple of choices. The least painful was to keep the people because we didn't want to lose their talents and skills."

Janiec said some took a cut in pay to stay in the system.

"It's not always about money, because they are career professionals. Sometimes it's about whether they feel they can find growth in the new position and whether it's satisfying to them," Janiec said.

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