Monday May 21, 2012

LEE -- A leadership change at Lee Middle and High School is an effort to improve teaching and learning throughout the local school system, according to Lee school officials.

Effective July 1, Principal Kerry Burke will become the Lee Public Schools' new curriculum director, with Vice Principal Joseph Turmel succeeding Burke as the top administrator on the Greylock Street campus.

Meanwhile, Turmel will be replaced with a dean of students, chosen from among the Lee teacher ranks, said School Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless.

McCandless said Burke will continue to earn the $85,000 annual salary she had as principal, a job she's held for seven years. He noted the Burke's pay is comparable to what the 29-year veteran of Lee Middle and High School would be earning if she were still teaching.

The salaries for Turmel as principal and dean of students haven't been determined, but will be covered in the fiscal 2013 budget starting July 1. As vice principal, Turmel currently earns $77,000.

The Lee School Committee recently approved the superintendent's reorganization plan, which Mc Candless says will help the district meet new and anticipated demands from state Department of Ele mentary and Secondary Education, primarily through the creation of the curriculum director position. The curriculum director will work with new state standards being passed down, as well as the teacher evaluation system.

"This will allow us to be in alignment with the state's new core curriculum, particularly at the elementary school where it will focus more on social studies and science," McCandless said.

He also said public schools will have to implement the state's new teacher evaluation system.

School Committee Chair woman Susan Harding ex pects work to begin this summer on potential curriculum changes, especially as they relate to the MCAS tests.

"A lot of conversation surrounds standardized testing," Harding said. "The changes will allows us to respond to better to the MCAS."

Harding feels Turmel, vice principal for the past five years, will make a smooth transition into the principal's role.

"He's been so active in many changes at the high school and the students respect him," said the mother of children at Lee Middle and High School.

As for the dean of students, it's a return to a position the school had in the 1990s, rather than a vice principal.

"Traditionally, a dean of students will focus on law and order and keep the school operating smoothly," McCandless said.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.