MARCO ISLAND — Marco Island Academy continues to strengthen its foundation, according to board member Chris Schemel, and recently hired two new teachers.
Former Marco Island Charter Middle School teacher Rob Eder signed a one year contract with the charter high school. Eder recently returned from North Carolina, where according to Schemel, he taught, and also ran a business for the past five years. He taught with the charter middle school here for five years before that.
According to the middle school’s principal of 12 years, George Abounader, while Eder taught there, “He was a diverse and excellent teacher.”
Eder is certified to teach art, social studies and English.
The second new educator at the high school is Michael Doherty, the science teacher. Schemel said that Doherty has not yet been offered the one year contract that is now pro forma for the school.
“We are still evaluating him, and will sit in on at least one or two of his classes,” said Schemel.
In an ongoing strategy to continue to build a solid school, Schemel said the teachers now fall under more stringent hiring assessments than in the past, and are subject to more inclusive evaluations on performance, this to insure excellence and continuity for the students, and upward growth of the charter high school in the face of recent turnover and the traditionally higher teacher attrition and mobility for charters.
In an interview with the veteran MICMS principal Abounader, he stated that the Island’s Charter Middle School experienced similar issues in the beginning.
“Grassroots charters are more challenging to man than management company charter schools such as USA Charter and KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program), and also face more difficulty that conversion charters,” he said. “There is a lot of energy and emotion involved in this grassroots effort. I was the third principal in the first two years here. Now we have 407 students, the highest enrollment ever. I’m blessed, and we have really great teachers.”
Of the first year grassroots high school, board member Schemel said that neither parents nor students were involved in the hiring evaluations of the two newest teachers, at this point, as board chairwoman Jane Watt previously indicated as possible options, but, he said “That is still something we plan for the future. We are aware we need to be accountable,” said Schemel.
“There are a couple phases to the hiring, just like running a chemical plant, to bring it into my engineering world. There is a balance point,” he said. “We have to abide by the Sunshine laws and we have consulted with employment lawyers. We feel we are acting in the best interest of the students. We are bringing in high performance teachers via the mechanism we are afforded with the one year contracts. Since we are not union, we have this kind of flexibility.”
“We are continuing to formalize the hiring process,” he said. The board, according to Schemel, is currently evaluating more resumes.
Settlement not reached with Pellant
In a special meeting convened on Monday, the Marco Island Academy has reversed a decision to accept former principal Chris Pellant’s letter for severance.
After almost a month in legal negotiations with the former head of the school, new board member Chris Schemel motioned to “reverse our position on agreeing in principle,” and deny Pellant’s request for a severance that would give him pay through Feb. 17, 2012. Pellant had also proposed that he be paid vacation time.
Schemel proffered that the board instead approve a severance for the former principal that would pay him for 12 days at his regular pay rate, and no vacation time.
The motion to reverse was affirmed by the board unanimously. The new offer will now go back to Pellant for his acceptance or counter. George V. Andreozzi is now principal.
Marco Island Academy has concluded its settlement with former art teacher Bill Kobe, who resigned at the same time as Pellant. Board Chairwoman Jane Watt announced that a mutual agreement has been reached between the school and Kobe. “The severance letter is ready for Dr. Kobe.” The agreement was drawn up by lawyers and is accepted by all parties. The agreement for Kobe is a check for three weeks part time pay, said Watt.
On a lighter note, Schemel said that the new school’s basketball team played their second game with passion. “We lost,” he said.
“But you should have seen their commitment. You should have seen these kids play.”