Assistant superintendent to retire

Dec 8, 2020

Michelle Roy, assistant superintendent of Dartmouth Public Schools, is retiring — and school officials are uncertain on how or when that position will be filled.

At a Dec. 7 School Committee meeting, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bonny Gifford proposed promoting Director of Teaching and Learning Tracy Oliveira to the position, while eliminating and absorbing her current role.

According to the superintendent, with the elimination of Oliveira’s current position, that money — around $130,000 to $150,000 — would be absorbed back into the school budget.

“It would be a big hit to our department, but we feel we want to give it a try,” Gifford said.

While committee members understood the need to fill the position, many said now is not the time to restructure, citing uncertainty over the upcoming school budget for Fiscal Year 2022.

“We don’t know if come the springtime and come fall of 2021 that we’re going to be cutting classroom positions, or instructional coaches, or teaching positions,”School Committee Chair Chris Oliver said. “If local revenues are better than what they’re being projected, then I have no problem filling this position — I just can’t see it right now.”

Vice Chair Dr. Shannon Jenkins also expressed concern and noted that she took a 7% pay cut at UMass Dartmouth “to do the job of two people” until the school can bounce back from any revenue loss.

“We’re not hiring anyone, we’re not promoting people,” she said. “We’re not doing any of that because we are trying to make it through until we figure out what Fiscal Year 2022 looks like.”

Committee member John Nunes disagreed with his colleagues, saying that the assistant superintendent’s position is “one that is needed” and that the money saved could be moved elsewhere in the upcoming budget.

“I want to keep things as much to the status quo as possible — we’ve got good people,” he said.

Gifford noted that a position was already absorbed this year. The superintendent said that after two employees serving under Business Administrator Jim Kiely left, his secretary “took on the entire transportation and more.” 

Ultimately, the board voted 4-1 to table the district’s proposal until a later date.

“We need to wait until we have [budget] numbers,” Jenkins said. “It’s much harder to undo this if the numbers are really really bad come spring.” 

Roy has been in this role since 2014, and was previously the K-12 Director of Data and Accountability for the Attleboro Public Schools. She also worked at the Whitman-Hanson Regional High School, the Plymouth school system and Old Rochester Regional High School.

Earlier this year, Roy was a finalist for the position of Superintendent of the Old Rochester Regional School District

“We wish you nothing but the best,” Oliver said. “I know this is a tough year to retire — it’s not like you can go and take a long vacation, but we hope you get some down time.”