June 14 – Teachers and staff at Ashford School demand the removal of the school superintendent.
Craig Creller began serving as superintendent less than a year ago on July 1. Ashford School serves students from kindergarten through eighth grade.
At a special meeting held on June 8, the Board of Education reviewed the superintendent’s contract and his recent evaluation in executive session. On June 11, the Ashford Education Association, the teachers’ union, issued a statement calling for Creller to be fired.
According to the teachers’ union, at the June 8 meeting, it and members of the Independent Union of Municipal Employees, made up of paraprofessionals, cafeteria and janitorial staff and school bus drivers, presented votes. of ‘distrust’ of the superintendent, citing performance issues and misleading information about the use of elementary and secondary school emergency relief funds “that jeopardize the education of the city’s children as well as a lack of collaboration and the “staggering” loss of 32% of teachers last year.
“Both unions had 100% turnout, and each union had 97% agreement with the vote,” the Ashford Education Association statement said.
Union members said when teachers were interviewed earlier this year, many said morale is low in the school and many fear reprisals for speaking out.
The Chronicle obtained emails between the union and the superintendent, detailing the concerns on both sides. When the union asked the superintendent in April for clarification on what areas the ESSER funds would be used for, the superintendent
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tendant replied “The most important thing to remember with grants is that you cannot ‘crowd’: i.e. spend the funds on things that are already part of your regular local budget. Most grants have very specific guidelines to support efforts “on top of” your regular expenses. For example, ESSER III is specifically intended to fill the achievement gap due to COVID-related declines, and even though there are still around 300,000 $ in this grant, it must last three years.
The union disputed this interpretation, saying that according to the US Department of Education, the funds could be used for many things, including continuing to employ existing or new staff, and that the funds could “supplant local funds”. .
The union position was that ESSER funding could be used for the 2022-23 budget to avoid further staff cuts in the coming year. But the next day, the superintendent reiterated via email that ESSER funds “cannot be used to pay existing salaries as that would be illegal”. The union again said the Board of Education could use ESSER funding for existing budget items, and the superintendent replied that he “respectfully” disagreed. The union also noted that they were frequently excluded from the budget preparation process, unlike in years under different administrations.
The union said staff were interviewed anonymously in February and again in May. In winter, 93% of respondents indicated that they did not believe the Superintendent respected them; in the spring, this percentage of responses was 100%.
They ask the Board of Education to oust Creller from his position. School board president Jane Urban said she had “no comment” on the union’s position or Creller’s future at the school.
Creller did not immediately respond to a request from the Chronicle to comment on the union’s vote of no confidence or his own goals as head of the school.
A special meeting is scheduled for June 14 and the next regular monthly board meeting is scheduled for June 16. The agenda has yet to be posted at the time of this writing, but union members are asking the school board to act as soon as possible.
“Our students have already lost so many experienced, high-quality educators over the past school year,” the union’s statement read in part. “If Ashford is to provide our children with the educational and emotional tools and foundation to succeed and contribute to our community, the Board of Education must act before we lose even more of our highly qualified teachers to others. districts desperately competing to hire educators for the 2022-23 school year.”
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