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Worcester schools superintendent concerned about resignations

Worcester County Superintendent of Schools Lou Taylor is concerned about an unusual number of resignations within the system as the 2024-25 academic year comes to an end.

BOE-May 21

A scene from a Worcester County Board of Education meeting on May 21.
Tara Fischer / Bayside Gazette

By Tara Fischer, Staff Writer 

At a Worcester County Board of Education meeting last week, Superintendent of Schools Lou Taylor expressed concern about an unusual number of resignations as the school year wraps next month.

Multiple school-level administrative changes and resignations were announced countywide at the meeting. The personnel amendments come as the system continues to grapple with funding issues.  

The Worcester County Board of Education announced new school-based administrative appointments and transfers effective July 1, at the Tuesday, May 21, meeting.  

“Something that I was taught by a former superintendent that sits on the board now is that one of the most important jobs you do as superintendent is name administrators,” Taylor said. “…I am very excited today about the people I have chosen to recommend to the board as new administrators here in Worcester County.” 

In addition to the administrative changes, the board announced 12 new resignations at the May 21 meeting. 

“I want to caution the board about one thing,” the superintendent said in light of the departures. “…We are losing people now because of our lack of salary compared to local counties around us. We normally do not have this many resignations this time of year, and we usually have a list of people lined up to get in here. I have had the chance to talk to some of them, and they said, ‘We love Worcester County, but the same level of scale where I am at Worcester, I go to a neighboring county, and I am making $8,000 to $10,000 more a year.’ If we don’t get our salary package…we will lose more.” 

The school system continues to grapple with budgetary dilemmas. At the May 14 meeting of the Worcester County Commissioners, the board approved a budget of $1 million under its requested amount. 

However, at the May 21 meeting, the commissioners voted 4-3 to reduce the previously approved budget by approximately $1.4 million. According to a statement released by Taylor, the change has altered the board’s budget to $104.9 million for a total of $2.8 million under the school system’s initial ask. 

“This board and this executive team have a lot of hard work and rolling up our sleeves to figure out where our school system needs to go and what cuts we’ll have to make,” Board President Todd Ferrante said at the May 21 meeting. “I want to assure you that we take everything we do seriously and will have to reconvene at some point this week to discuss. We are certainly disappointed in the outcome of today’s commissioner meeting, but we will do what we think is best for the school system moving forward.”

Among the personnel changes is the reshuffling of assistant principals to different Worcester County schools. 

Tony Bevilacqua, who was named the Worcester County Teacher of the Year in 2012 for his work at Worcester Technical High School and most recently served as principal and supervisor of instruction and mentoring at Somerset County Public Schools, will return to WCPS to replace WTHS Principal Tom Zimmer. LaVerne Cray is set to transfer from Showell Elementary School to the technical institute to step into the assistant principal role left by Wynnette Hansen. Zimmer and Hansen announced their retirement earlier this year. 

Stephen Decatur Middle School Assistant Principal Mark Shipley is moving to SES to fill the position left by Cray. Berlin Intermediate School Kristy Clark will assume Shipley’s former role. 

SDMS Principal Lynne Barton is retiring after the 2023-2024 academic year. Theresa Torpey, the facility’s current assistant principal and extended day administrator with 26 years of experience as a Worcester County educator, will fill the position. 

Four new assistant principals, including Colby Haines, who has been with Worcester County since 2012, were also announced. Haines will slide into the SDMS spot left by Torpey. 

Leah James, the current Pocomoke High School Curriculum Resource Teacher, will act as the assistant principal at Snow Hill Elementary School. James is replacing Jennifer Howard, who is transferring to Pocomoke Elementary School as a counselor. 

Jeff Postell, who entered the school system in 2021, will take the position of assistant principal at Buckingham Elementary School left by Quinn Swain. The school’s current administrator is moving to BIS. 

Snow Hill Middle School teacher Kristina Salvarola is slated to transfer to Snow Hill High School as an assistant principal after Scot Tingle retires at the end of this year. 

This story appears in the May 30, 2024, print edition of the Bayside Gazette.