The International Baccalaureate program at Schenectady High School has a new leader — high school social studies teacher Patricia Embree, whose selection was announced Wednesday at a Board of Education meeting.
The board also unanimously approved a four-year contract with the Schenectady Federation of Teachers that will extend the teaching day in all schools.
Superintendent Eric Ely announced at the meeting that Embree has been selected as the teacher-leader for the IB program, which provides a rigorous curriculum for advanced students. Ely said Embree is well-versed in the IB program and teaches social studies classes at that level.
“She’s worked in the program for a number of years and is familiar with the kids, familiar with the high school. I think she’ll do a fine job,” he said.
In addition, Ely said Embree served as grant coordinator to implement the program of restructuring the high school into separate academic houses.
Last fall, Embree — an 18-year teaching veteran — achieved National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification, considered the gold standard for the profession.
Embree will not receive any special stipend for taking on the IB duties. However, Ely said she will have a reduced teaching load.
The IB program has been in turmoil. In March, Ely informed coordinator Rosaline Horowitz that she was being reassigned, and the other coordinator, Greg Wolos, resigned from the program in protest. Ely said he was unhappy with the performance of the students in the program. The superintendent was challenged by parents who supported the coordinators, and in recent weeks Ely has met with parents to calm the water.
The new teacher contract restructures the district’s school schedules. The elementary school hours will go from 9:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. now to 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The middle school day will be changed from 8:10 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. now to 8 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. The high school hours will change from 7:30 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. currently to 8 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.
Ely said the district wants to improve student achievement.
“We believe that more instructional time for our students is key to continuing the progress and speeding up the progress that we’re making,” he said. Board President Jeff Janiszewski said this extra time will result in an additional 90 hours a year of school and help bring the district’s students closer to the world standard for number of hours of instruction.
The Schenectady Federation of Teachers voted last week to approve the agreement, which also contains raises of 2.2 percent, which is retroactive to Sept. 1 of last year. This is on top of the step raises that teachers get, which Ely said averages about 2.7 percent
Salaries will increase 3.5 percent in year two, 3.2 percent in year three and 3.6 percent in year four. The current starting salary for a teacher with a master’s degree is $39,643. For 10 years of experience, the salary is $51,350, and for 25 years, the starting salary is $78,883. Also, the teachers’ share of health insurance premiums will increase from 12 percent to 13 percent for individuals and from 15 percent to 16 percent for families in the final year of the contract.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette: