SCHENECTADY -- The city school district hopes to fill nearly a dozen hall monitor positions for the high school and middle schools in an effort to address concerns over student behavior.
The effort comes after dozens of teachers last month raised concerns over student behavior and the overall school climate during a Jan. 18 School Board meeting. Teachers described truant and disrespectful students disrupting classes and refusing to obey instructions. Some said teachers felt unsafe in the schools, and that the school climate was as bad as it has been in 15 years.
“The current state of affairs is a disgrace and disservice to the citizens of Schenectady, especially to parents,” Oneida Middle School teacher Carol Lupo said at the January meeting.
The district has two vacant hall monitor positions at the high school and is creating nine more – three at the high school and two at each of the three middle schools. The district’s hall monitors walk the halls with the goal of minimizing student disruptions and making sure students are not wandering where/when they shouldn't be.
The positions are essentially paraprofessionals, Superintendent Larry Spring said, and the district is looking to hire community members who want to work with students and serve as positive role models. Hall monitors are paid $10.55 an hour.
“We are looking for folks who want to play those roles,” Spring said.
At the first board meeting since the outpouring of teachers last month, some board members pressed Spring for details about how he planned to respond to the concerns over student behavior.
“I’m glad to hear we are hiring more hall monitors, but I would like to know what else we are doing to address the behavior problems,” board member Cheryl Nechamen said at Wednesday’s meeting.
Spring said the district would also begin working to communicate clear expectations and enforcement of rules by teachers and other school staff. While he noted the number of student suspensions so far this year – more than 400 at the high school alone – indicates schools aren't reluctant to discipline students, he said it was important that rules were evenly and consistently implemented.
“When adults do not avail themselves of that ability, kids figure out really quickly where the holes in the system are,” Spring said.
Spring also said the district convened a group of administrators, teachers and behavior specialists who are working to develop a “management playbook” to spell out how particular behavioral problems should be handled.