ARLINGTON -- Hiring practices were the focus of an Arlington School District policy committee meeting this week, spurred by some recent contention.
Earlier this year, school officials received criticism through the hiring process of six vacant positions the school district was seeking to fill, the main complaint being they didn’t "hire local."
Aaron Wood, an Arlington resident and current math teacher at Twin Valley High School in Wilmington, said he wasn’t speaking as a "scorned applicant" when he approached board members at a meeting in May. But he continued to say there were local applicants interested in several positions and that the hiring committee had not made an impartial decision, given that the committee included a current teacher in that department.
Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union Superintendent Karen Gallese said the six positions had been advertised through the normal method -- the online website SchoolSpring -- and the district received more than 100 applicants between all the openings. "We wanted to attract the cream of the crop," she said.
While procedures varied from school to school, Gallese continued at that meeting May 8 to say she did not have an issue with department chairs conducting interviews. "You are a small school, so you are going to run into ‘husband and wife’ situations."
Local candidates were granted interviews, but none were ultimately selected. Gallese pointed out in May that many of the chosen applicants were planning to move into town and become Arlington residents.
On Wednesday, policy committee members reviewed a model policy from another school district and made some revisions.
Sourced by Arlington school board member Dawn Hoyt, the policy’s introductory paragraph describes an intent to "hire the best possible teachers and administrators."
After discussion, committee members agreed to language that allows applicants to apply through the "appropriate channels," which, in most cases, involves the online application process.
Regarding a long-standing convention of granting interviews to all local candidates, the committee ultimately decided against a rule of so-called "courtesy interviews."
School board member and BVSU Chairwoman Maureen Harvey said it was a hard decision, but then "sometimes your job is hard."
"(The issue with courtesy interviews is) sometimes the assumption is, ‘I got the interview, I got the job,’" Harvey said.
The policy committee also discussed animals in the school buildings, resulting in agreement that pets weren’t allowed.
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