White Plains Superintendent of Schools Dr. Saul Yanofsky told this reporter Wednesday, he had “indicated” to Donna McLaughlin, President of the Board of Education he’d be willing to extend his contract for one year beyond June 2002, as early as the last week of October or the beginning of November. His offer was apparently on the table within two weeks of the district announcement of his departure, and has been ignored by the Board during the growing public furor over the Board decision not to renew his contract.
Two members say he was unwilling to come back.
Yanofsky said he was moved to call WPCNR by assertions from two
Board of Education members this week.
One statement may have been from Dorothy Schere. Schere said so in a public statement at the Board of Education Monday night. Her statement transcript can be read in a separate article.
The other member was Larry Geiger who indicated similar sentiments to WPCNR.
The Yanofsky statement
Yanofsky said he felt compelled to set the record straight about his willingness to “come back” and issued this statement Wednesday personally to WPCNR Wednesday at 4:45 PM:
“Three weeks or so, ago, in conversation with the Board President (Donna McLaughlin), I indicated I’d be willing to sign a one year contract. The Board decided not to change their mind. That was clear Monday night when they decided to go ahead (and search for a new superintendent). I was surprised to see two Board members say I had not (offered to come back).”
Dr. Yanofsky said he was moved to clarify his statement to WPCNR Monday evening after reading statements to the contrary.
For the record, WPCNR had asked Dr. Yanofsky a routine question as he was departing White Plains High School Monday evening. We asked if he’d be willing to come back if asked by the Board.
His response then: “That does not appear to be an option at this time.” Yanofsky amplified this comment late Wednesday afternoon:
“I said that does not appear to be an option at this time” he said, “in light of the Board vote Monday night. I wanted to set the record straight.”
Board had chance to patch things up.
What Yanofsky’s Wednesday statement reveals is the Board of Education has had the opportunity for three weeks to keep Dr. Yanofsky on a short-term one year basis on the table. They so far have apparently chosen to stay their course, in spite of public opposition, and search for a superintendent now.
Publicly they have been defending their decision to relieve Yanofsky of his duties last April on the basis of differences over test scores, program evaluation and quality of District-wide communications and public relations.
Negotiations loomed large in Board’s thinking
The unsolicited information provided by Dr. Yanofsky today makes clear that the Board of Education worry over a teachers union contract that expires in June 2003, has had far more impact on their decision not to renew Yanofsky’s contract than they have stated publicly.
Board of Education President Donna McLaughlin admitted as much to WPCNR Monday evening as she was leaving the Board of Education meeting. WPCNR sympathized with her, saying “You were between a rock and a hard place in light of those teacher negotiations.” Ms. McLaughlin said “yes.”
As outlined by WPCNR previously, the scenario the Board saw developing was this: If Yanofsky was extended for only one year, from 2002 to 2003, the new superintendent would be taking over in July 2003.
The teachers union would be negotiating in early 2003 with a lame-duck superintendent (Yanofsky). The union would have, in WPCNR’s analysis, a negotiating edge over Dr. Yanofsky: his own haste to settle the contract to give the new superintendent a clean, fresh start with the district, avoiding an ugly confrontation with teachers over wages in his or her first months on the job.
Yanofsky’s remarks Monday evening.
In his remarks to the public at the Board of Education meeting, Yanofsky did not reveal his offer to stay for one year. He described his approach to the Board of Education last spring as being a case where he did not ask for either a two or three year contract. He said “I did not say I wanted 2 or 3 years, just that we needed to talk about how best to transition (to a new superintendent). I felt it was time to have that conversation. That conversation (with the Board) never took place.”
Answers Board Criticism
In response to the Board criticism in their letter of last week of his position on testing, Yanofsky said Monday evening: “I never suggested that these tests weren’t important. I said that we needed to do all we could do to convince the state Education Department that it does not report results that stand education well and we tried to convey that to the community. State tests are a reality, and we as a district have to do all we can to improve the performance.”
Yanofsky shed light Monday on the Board request of him for a plan to improve test scores. Yanofsky indicated that there were six work sessions in which he and the Board discussed “what the nature of that plan might be.” It became clear, he said, that the Board wanted to “quantify” goals in such a plan, setting standards by which test scores should improve a certain percentage each year. He said he opposed such an approach.
The Board of Education will meet with Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates next Tuesday to discuss profiling the new Superintendent of Schools candidate they seek.
The next work session of the Board of Education is Monday, November 26 at Education House at which they will begin budget discussions and review technology needs of the district.