By BRIDGET FRYMAN
BENTON — Fairfield Community Schools will soon have a new way to meet the needs of their high ability students.
The board approved the new position of High Ability/Testing Coordinator at their meeting Thursday.
“It has been a goal for four years,” Superintendent Steve Thalheimer said. “For our high ability program to grow, we need someone who can dedicate attention to that.”
The position will also replace in part Thalheimer’s vacant assistant superintendent position by assuming responsibility for all district testing, including ISTEP. It will also replace the MAX program coordinator that was eliminated during budget cuts more than 5 years ago.
“If you have someone who is bored in class, we are not serving the needs of that student,” board member Brent Welty said.
The high ability/testing coordinator will be under a school year contract plus 20 days with an estimated salary and benefits of $76,000. The salary will be paid in part by the state’s high ability grant and the remainder from general fund, which will be less than the unused assistant superintendent salary.
Thalheimer said as assistant superintendent he was able to make some progress improving programs for high ability students, but now an expert is needed to continue the gains. The person would split time between the four buildings and would report to the superintendent. Thalheimer estimated the position would be filled in July.
The board also approved the extension of the district systems paraprofessional from a school year contract to a full year contract. The needs of the district do not neatly fit into the school year, Thalheimer said. The extension would allow for summer maintenance and implementing new systems.
“We need to improve our technology and this is a step in the right direction,” board president Wayne Miller said.
Adding days to the contract would be an $11,000 increase, which would be paid from capitol projects, from where the salary is currently paid.
The board also approved a title change for Phil Menzie from administrative assistant for business to business manager. It simplifies his title and does not change his job responsibilities or compensation.