Bethel Park Superintendent Seems Confused About Responsibility

Bethel Park Superintendent Seems Confused About Responsibility

Lamenting the inability of the Bethel Park School District to get a contract with teachers for the last two and half years, the superintendent says she has been silent until now because she is in a " peculiar position of advising the Board and leading the staff."

Hold the phone. Does the Board not hire superintendents to manage the schools on behalf of the residents and taxpayers of the district? That being the case, the superintendent is honor bound to work for the board and taxpayers. Staff members do not pay her salary, they answer to her as the board’s appointed agent in charge.

Clearly, she has the obligation to advise the board on what it should do vis-à-vis the teachers’ contract but her obligation has to be first and foremost to the board. She can be an advocate for programs that improve education or management procedures that improve cost effectiveness. At the same time, she is not, and should never consider herself, to be a spokesperson for the union’s interests. The union has enough power on its side in the bargaining process including the right to strike and the state’s idiotic no layoffs for financial reasons provisions.

If the talks are at an impasse, and compensation costs cannot be lowered under the terms of the old contract, the superintendent should offer suggestions about programs to cut-one of two criteria the state permits for reducing staff. Alternatively, if teachers will not agree to slight increases in class size to save their jobs, then the onus must be on their union for staff that lose their jobs because of intransigence.

The Bethel Park board should question whether the superintendent understands her role.