By Ryan Pike and Jason Klaiber
Managing Editors for Writing and Reporting and Promotion
After the second round of proposed layoffs in a four-year span, things appeared grim for some Jamesville-DeWitt High School employees. Chief among those whose positions were in peril were first-year Guidance Office Secretary Renee Palladino and Student Counselor Will Hartley, whose job was also in jeopardy during the 2010-11 school year.
But with the Public Budget Forum on April 7 came the good news that J-DHS will not be losing any of its current staff and faculty members. “When we finally got the word that all these positions were going to be safe, it was a huge relief,” said Mrs. Palladino; “I slept better that night than I had in weeks.”
“To be fair to the Superintendent [Dr. Alice Kendrick], it’s been very difficult,” said J-DHS principal Paul Gasparini; “She doesn’t like to see anything like [layoffs] happen.” Fortunately, the layoffs didn’t have to happen due to outstanding community support.
The J-D school board encouraged the community to write to their elected representatives and urge them to raise the state aid for J-D in 2014-15. An overall increase of 2.61 percent was seen in the $11,605,223 J-D was granted, the largest sum since the district was given a little over $12.5 million for the 2009-10 school year.
The district’s proposed budget shows a 2.89 percent increase from $49,636,676 to $51,069,349. The board seeks to have this new budget accepted by the community at the vote on May 20. They intend to raise revenue for the budget by increasing the tax levy and drawing more money out of the district’s reserves. With a 2.14 percent increase to the tax levy, a projected $36,806,764 would be put into the district, making up the majority of the projected budget.
Financial issues aside, Mr. Hartley and Mrs. Palladino have proved invaluable to J-DHS. During the hiring process, Mrs. Palladino told Mr. Gasparini that she would keep organized in an effort to make the counseling center run at peak efficiency. “If I’m not organized, they can't do their jobs,” Mrs. Palladino explained; “My goal is to do my very best to keep this place as organized as I can.”
Her colleagues have taken note of her tireless work ethic and praise her accordingly. Mr. Hartley and guidance counselor Amy LeStrange both called her “awesome.” “She is outstanding,” said guidance counselor Clete Gualtieri; “The whole [counseling] operation works very well when everyone is at the top of their game.” He continued on to state that Mrs. Palladino is constantly on top of her game, and the counselors’ jobs would be far more difficult in her absence.
In Mr. Hartley’s case, having his job security in question offered a blast to the past, as he experienced the same process back in 2011. “It’s one of those things in life you’d rather not go through,” he said.
Just as they did in 2010-11, many parents and students came out to a board meeting and wrote letters to board members in an emotional show of support Mr. Hartley and his position. “It’s very empowering. You feel good about yourself,” he said; “Most people don’t get to have their funeral before they’re dead.” He added that the positive feedback leaves him revitalized and ready to continue working hard. “I like working with young folk,” he said; “I like the energy in this place. It’s fun to have different stuff going on; there’s goofiness. I appreciate goofiness.”