OSWEGO — Oswego City School District administrators are seeking to hire programming executives to improve learning outcomes in mathematics and English language arts, a move aimed at bridging learning gaps brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new director of mathematics and director of English language arts positions would supplement the work carried out by other employees whose jobs have consolidated several duties into one title in the last few years, according to Oswego City School District (OCSD) Superintendent Mathis Calvin III. Both positions would focus on professional and instructional development across the district for the two subjects, while also aligning the respective curriculum to fulfill district goals.

“I have been here for a little while and I have been able to assess what is happening in the district and assess how the day to day operations are going,” Calvin said at Tuesday’s OCSD Board of Education meeting. “One of the things we have come to understand is that several years ago, due to budget implications, there have been some cutbacks to positions. Because of those financial decisions, we tried to combine positions to try and make it through those challenging periods.”

The consolidation of said positions have taken their toll in learning performance for students, Calvin said. 

“When we look at our performance in English language arts and math and we look at how students are doing — especially with the gaps in instruction caused by the pandemic — what is really clear to us is that we need a lot of extra help to attain some of those goals we have as a district,” he said.

Salaries for the two new positions would start at $93,400, Calvin said, referencing the district’s agreement with the local bargaining unit of the Association of Assistant Principals union.

Addressing learning gaps brought on by the abrupt transition to primarily remote instruction last year, as entire industries shifted their mode of operations due to the viral outbreak.

“The pandemic and resulting shift to widespread remote instruction are providing an unprecedented view of the real-world consequences of learning without the supportive academic, social and educational surroundings of a school,” New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) Executive Director Robert Schneider said in a statement.

In a recent report issued by NYSSBA, the statewide organization identified tutoring as a potential “panacea” for remediating learning loss.

“Tutoring programs have consistently large, positive impacts on students across a wide range of program characteristics,” the report states. “Programs with the most impact tended to be facilitated by educators or paraprofessionals, as opposed to volunteers or parents, and tended to be programs embedded within the school day.”

A.J. Gutierrez, the coFounder of national consulting firm Saga Education, recommends tutoring sessions three to five tutoring sessions per week, amounting to 60 to 70 hours of instruction per school year.

“This frequency is where you begin to see significant academic gains for students,” he notes in the report.

Gutierrez recommends pairing students and tutors according to student skill level, which he said could be determined based on metrics such as regents tests scores.

The district is also proposing the creation of an assistant director of business administration, which would help OCSD’s business office work on day-to-day operations and budget oversight.

“Day-to-day financial reporting has continued to increase, and COVID-19 has just exacerbated the daily operations for business officials,” Calvin said regarding the need for the position. He highlighted the growth of duties during the pandemic such as managing expenses on transportation, food service, buildings and grounds, security, and grant writing.

Salaries for this position would range between $75,000 and $80,000

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