Manchester's voted to approve the swap of two of the township's elementary school principals, as well as office staffers and teachers, despite concerns from residents who questioned why the transfers are necessary.
Marjorie Stevens, the principal of , and Dr. Francese Scudese, principal, will trade buildings when classes resume in September.
In addition, four office staff members and eight teachers from those schools will be transferred to the other, and one Whiting lunch aide will be moved to .
The full list of staff and where they are transferring is .
Superintendent David Trethaway said that the swaps are meant to ensure that a mixture of experienced and new teachers are spread throughout the district as staff retire. He assured those at the board's June 15 meeting that administrators are not shuffling underperforming teachers.
"I can honestly tell you I would never make that recommendation, nor would I except the board to approve that," Trethaway said. "If someone is not doing a good job, that person will be held accountable."
The superintendent said that the board considered "what's best for our district."
"We're looking to make sure we have some consistency throughout our district," he said. "New teachers can benefit from the experienced teachers, and the experienced teachers can benefit from the new teachers."
Switching Scudese and Stevens is a move that Trethaway said would "bring in new ideas and a new way to look at things and I think both schools will benefit."
"I can tell you it's not because one leader isn't doing a very good job," he said. "They both have different styles and that's fine. They are both very good leaders and I respect what they do. We're looking forward to them sharing with their staffs, bringing in new programs and building on the programs that they have."
But not all in attendance were convinced by the board's rationale. One Whiting resident, Joseph Geortz, has four children attending Whiting Elementary and questioned administrator's motives.
"We're just going to get [vague answers]," he said. "All I see now is that for some unknown, secret reason, some staff who are integral to running that school are being disappeared to another school. I don't know these people coming, but I know the people leaving."
Caroline Brown, another parent from Whiting, asked why the transfers are necessary, especially when staff are already familiar with the parents and students at their current schools.
"If everybody is so great, and the teachers are so wonderful and the principals are so wonderful, why are they being moved?"
Trethaway said that the principal swap is being done to bring "new insight and new ideas."
"We're doing it from strength," he said.
Board member Jackie Bermudez said that either principal will serve students well because they take the same direction from the board.
"It's not because of the principals, but because of the school system and because of the programs that are implemented by our school system," she said. "The principals follow what our board says. Every principal is doing the same thing. I think this change will be wonderful because both of these women are wonderful."
After the meeting, Stevens said that she "will be sad to leave Whiting School," adding that "I'm blessed to work in Manchester Township."
Board vice president James Pate cast the lone vote against the transfers.
According to the board, the transition period will be in July and staff will be in place when schools reopen in September.