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Mr. Potter's Letter to the Community 4/27

Red Raider Community: 

As we are faced with a challenging budget situation given the lost revenue in NYS and threat of further loss of State Aid to support our funding I’m writing to you to provide information in regard to the decision making process we will be using. 

The greatest impact on learning is the classroom teacher. In order to maximize this, research shows the single greatest impact a leader has on that is Leading Teacher Learning and Development (LTLD). When implemented effectively, this single activity can increase student learning by 2 years for every year of instruction. 

So, although we have difficult decisions to make to reduce our expenses by approximately $1.1M, the system we are designing to achieve the above needs to be supported. Therefore, at the last BOE meeting 15 Impact Coaches were appointed. An Impact Coach is not an additional faculty member, but an additional role taken on by existing faculty. Impact Coaches replace the Department Chairperson model. A job description is attached for your review. 

Throughout this current year we restructured our administrative team to maximize our ability to LTLD. In August I proposed to the BOE that we eliminate the Instructional Technology Coordinator position, enabling us to add a School Improvement Coordinator. I spent the first 3 months of the school year interviewing teams of faculty, by grade level and department. I learned a great deal about the needs of our educational infrastructure. We lacked curriculum and instructional design and support as well as social emotional and behavioral supports for students. 

In a series of presentations in December and January, the BOE approved our 3 year School Impact Process. There were 2 major pieces. First, a complete administrative realignment, second was a change in the type of staff needed at the building level. The Special Education Director became the Director of Student Services. This role is more encompassing and responsible for not only Special Education but our Academic Intervention Services and a complete Multi Tiered System of Support. The School Improvement Coordinator became the Assistant Superintendent for School Improvement. This role expanded to not only include professional development but added the responsibility of curriculum and instruction for ELA and Social Studies K-12. The High School Principal became the Assistant Superintendent for STEAM & Innovation. This role has responsibility for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math curriculum and instruction K-12 as well as our IT infrastructure. All three of these administrators welcomed this challenge with open arms, a new title, and ZERO additional salary. The second change was the elimination of 6 teacher aide positions. Building administrators informed me that we had been over staffed in this position. With this resource already budgeted, we made the decision to allocate those funds to the new position of Behavior Specialist; one for each building. This role will positively impact hundreds of students over the course of a school year. 

For the MCSD to LTLD, the above structure must stay in place. We will be informing impacted staff members this week regarding their employment status. Ms. Birch and I will be presenting our proposed budget at a virtual Coffee Chat on Wednesday, May 13 at 6pm. The BOE will then vote on this budget at the virtual meeting on Thursday, May 14 at 7pm. 

I’m living to my commitments, and basing decisions on our district priorities & values (included below). I’m grateful to be in Mechanicville. Throughout my career my employment decisions had been professionally motivated. I left teaching and coaching in Ballston Spa to pursue building level administration in Stillwater, and an 18% raise. I left Stillwater to pursue district level administration and a 13.5% raise. I left Berkshire to come to Mechanicville for happiness and fulfillment. It was my great desire to lead a community school, and there is no better place than Mechanicville, even at a 14% pay cut. My joy this year has been worth it! 

My best, Bruce 

As Superintendent, I commit to: 

  • Listen, and have an open mind 
  • Gather the best information available prior to making a decision 
  • Make decisions that align with our district’s priorities, values and goals 
  • Be humble, look to research and experts in the field for solutions 
  • Role model the behavior I expect in others 
  • Be kind and supportive, we are all striving to do our very best 
  • Be transparent with information, both qualitative and quantitative 
  • Assume the best in others, we are all here to do what’s best for kids


Click here for a job description of the IMPACT coach position.