District may not replace director

March 26, 2006

Board may use salary, benefits for deficit, full-day kindergarten

Germantown School District Director of Technology and Communications Joe Totoraitis is retiring, effective Friday, June 30.

Totoraitis, 56, has a 31-year career in the district as a teacher, principal and administrator. He recently submitted a letter of resignation to School District Superintendent Victor Rossetti.

"We're going to miss him. He's one of the best technology people I've had the opportunity to work with," said Rossetti.

Totoraitis was unavailable for comment before Banner Press deadline on March 21.

Totoraitis' impending retirement normally would not be considered an issue. Between 20 and 30 district employees -- from teaching assistants to top-level administrators -- typically retire each spring but this is not a typical year.

A quandary for the School Board -- should it replace Totoraitis or should it save his salary and benefits and use it elsewhere in the budget?

For one, the Germantown School Board is considering implementing full-day kindergarten in fall and is trying to scrape together enough funds to make that come true.

Uncertain how to proceed

Earlier this year school district officials announced an administrative reorganization plan designed to save the district salary expenses.

Those additional funds resulted from eliminating the job of former human resources director Alan Spiegel -- after he retired on Jan. 31. Additional savings will be recouped by dropping funding for a high school aquatics director, Richard Zache, and a middle school associate principal, Keith Michalowski, although both will transfer in summer to vacating positions elsewhere in the school district.

"We're not quite sure what we're going to do," he said in an interview last week.

Rossetti, however, supports finding a full-time replacement for Totoraitis.

"I've heard people say, 'you don't need a director. All you need is somebody who can fix computers.'" he said. "If we did that our computers would be (out of date) in a year. You need someone who not only understands the technology but the importance of articulating and integrating it into the curriculum and into the structural programing."

No layoffs to be announced

Another budget savings strategy -- layoffs of district personnel -- will not be used this spring.

"The board looked at anticipated needs both through retirements, resignations and natural attrition and decided to take no action on those layoff notices," Warnimont explained.

Five Germantown district teachers -- one each at Amy Belle and MacArthur elementary schools and three from Kennedy Middle School -- were identified for preliminary notices.

Warnimont said enough vacancies are anticipated to pop up at the middle and elementary schools this spring and summer to accommodate the five teachers.

It's not unusual for school districts to issue preliminary notices and then during summer offer the employee a position created from a vacancy arising from retirement, resignation, illness or death.

BY THE NUMBERS

$450,000

estimated cost to fund full-day kindergarten in the Germantown School District

$120,000

estimated salary and benefits of retiring Director of Technology and Communications Joe Totoraitis

$275,000

estimated savings of the administrative reorganization plan

"We're not quite sure
what we're going to do."

Bruce Warnimont

School Board member

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