Although it was not on Monday’s Region 1 agenda, the school budget for 2013-14 was still a topic of discussion.The proposal has failed to pass in the region’s six towns five times, and with the latest plan still less than last year’s total, many people have said the rejections are not about money.
Speakers at hearings on the budget have complained about cutting four teaching positions at the high school, increasing salaries for technology personnel and creating three-year contracts granting 2 percent raises per year for the superintendent and assistant superintendent. Speakers also were concerned about how prepared teachers were for a plan that would have given all high school students iPads, which have now been removed from the budget.Added was Housatonic Valley Regional High School Principal Matthew Harnett’s resignation a week before the start of school and two ongoing lawsuits involving the district’s top administrators. Hartnett left to take a job as principal at a middle school in Bristol. Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves is suing board member Gale C. Toensing of Falls Village for defamation, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, interference with a contractual relationship and invasion of privacy.
Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain is being sued by her executive secretary, Lucille Paige, who is on paid administrative leave until next month. Paige claims that she was denied her right to free speech, disciplined for participating in an investigation into the school administration, and assaulted during a confrontation over her private email.
Salisbury resident Marshall Miles, who is a petitioning candidate for the Region 1 board, said board Chairman Jonathan Moore of Kent made inappropriate remarks about Hartnett at a Kent Board of Education meeting that were quoted in a recent news article, in which Moore said Harnett had said one of the reasons he left was so his reputation wouldn’t be “trashed.” Miles said no one trashed Harnett. Miles also said Moore claimed he and Chamberlain had spoken about a transition plan for dealing with Harnett’s leaving. “They should have informed the whole board,” Miles said. “We’re looking at perception. You have to build a bond of trust.”
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