AUBURN | Shortly after the beginning of Tuesday's Auburn Enlarged City School District Board of Education meeting, Vice President Kathleen Rhodes called for a break to honor Superintendent Constance Evelyn.
June 30 marks Evelyn's final day in the district before she heads to Long Island to lead an all-elementary school district. In her three-year tenure in Auburn, Evelyn promoted innovative, grant-supported initiatives that were "student focused," Interim Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo said.
These included a program to make district buildings hubs for community-wide health and wellness offerings supported by the Community Schools Grant. Additionally, Evelyn brought the Pathways in Technology and Early College High School, or P-Tech, a $2.8 million seven-year grant the district will use to offer student cohorts a high school diploma as they also pursue an associate degree in applied science from Cayuga Community College.
After cake and refreshments were shared among well wishers and board members, Pirozzolo invited comments from those in attendance.
Board members took turns thanking Evelyn for her warm professionalism and for sharing her ideas with the district and her persevering work ethic.
"It's been an amazing three years," said Eli Hernandez. "You've brought our board together. ... You set goals for us and you superseded every single one of them."
Also at the meeting, Pirozzolo reported in the two years since the district adopted a teacher and instructional staff recruitment and retention program 39 teachers were hired. Only two, he said, have left the district, one because he returned to his hometown and the other teacher was not re-contracted.
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Since the recruitment plan was put in place, Pirozzolo said he's attended six teacher recruitment days, garnering five of the 39 hires from those forums.
He reported the retention policy reflects that the district offers competitive wages, a safe work environment, comprehensive health benefits including vision coverage in addition to wellness programs and a fair discipline program.
"I still say between Syracuse and Rochester, Cayuga County has some of the most competitive wages between those two cities," Pirozzolo said.
A public hearing on a revised code of conduct was unattended by the public and Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Camille Johnson gave a truncated version of her report to the lone latecomer, former Auburn High School quarterback from 1948 to 1950, Dick Williams.
During the board meeting the code was unanimously approved, President Michael McCole was absent, however.
Johnson said the policy's language was updated to include the following: Students may use cell phones in class for educational purposes, doctor-prescribed inhalers for severe respiratory needs may be carried by students whose doctors request they carry them on their person, description of restorative discipline and alternatives to suspension and e-cigarette use is prohibited on school grounds along with all tobacco products.