OHS to have one administrator, but savings will not be used to bring anyone back

Mindy Carls
Nathan DeBaillie, right, is the interim principal at Orion High School. He is shown with Sheldon Larson, left, during a ceremony at Orion High School.

Nathan DeBaillie will be the interim principal at Orion High School in 2010-11, the school board decided on Wednesday, July 21.

The Orion graduate has been the dean of students and athletic director since 2008.

“We appreciate his willingness to step in on short notice,” board president Doug Nelson said.

Superintendent David Deets said he and DeBaillie will sit down in the next week or two and decide how the duties of dean and athletic director will be carried out.

Deets expects to present the board with “a staffing solution to handle the many functions that were associated with Mr. DeBaillie’s dual administrative roles” at its meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 18.

Athletic practices begin Wednesday, Aug. 11, and school starts Tuesday, Aug. 17.

Moments before hiring DeBaillie as the interim principal, the board accepted the resignation of principal Ron Harris.

The resignation depends on the East Moline school board hiring Harris for a position.

Board members Larry Atkinson and Kim Nightingale voted against accepting Harris’ resignation. Atkinson also voted against hiring DeBaillie to replace him.

Harris became the OHS?principal in 2006.

“Mr. Harris recently informed the district that he had accepted an administrative position in the QC area,” a press release from Deets said.

The district has not had a chance to negotiate a contract with DeBaillie, Nelson said.

Deets does not expect to post the dean/athletic director vacancy, but he also does not expect the money saved to allow the district to undo any of the staff changes for next year.

Early in the meeting, when Nelson asked for public comments, several teachers asked the board to consider bringing back a teacher with the money saved from leaving the dean/athletic director position open.

Orion Middle School teacher John Crose said he had two children at C.R. Hanna Elementary School, which will have only 1 1/2 physical education teachers next year instead of two.

Crose told the board he was concerned about safety in gym classes with 30 to 40 students, and he was also concerned about the quality of instruction.

He said he would like to give PE teacher Chris Zentic a chance to come back. He was dismissed in March because the district determined it did not need five PE teachers.

Tracy Fausett, another OMS?teacher with an Orion address, said she was concerned about the effect of the staff changes.

Mentioning PE and music specifically, Fausett said, “There’s no way we can say the quality of education will be like it was. I can’t teach my kid what they can teach my kid.”

The high school can do without a second administrator, Fausett said, adding it had one administrator for a long time, when the enrollment was higher than it is now.

After the meeting adjourned, physical education teacher Becky

Nightingale asked if leaving the dean/athletic director position open might create a ripple effect that would undo staff changes announced earlier in the year.

Deets said no, he did not anticipate reducing the number of OHS administrators to have any effect on teaching assignments.

Referring to area residents’ opinions about the number of administrators at OHS, Nelson said, “The board has heard the community comments.”

Those comments will be considered as the board works through how many administrators the high school needs to have, the board president said.

The superintendent said in the press release that he had mixed feelings about the situation.

On the one hand, Deets was disappointed to lose Ron Harris, whom he called “an excellent educational leader” who shared many of the superintendent’s beliefs about “excellence in education.”

On the other hand, Deets said that while working with DeBaillie on the administrative team for the last two years, he had learned the dean and athletic director “has an exemplary work ethic and brings a similar skill set and philosophy about leadership that Ron possessed.”

DeBaillie and Harris worked closely on “some significant high school improvement efforts that we need to continue,” Deets said. “I believe with experience that Nathan will become an outstanding principal for our district.”

In the press release, Nelson expanded on his comments at the board meeting.

“We appreciate having the continuity of Nathan stepping in and being willing to assume this important leadership role,” Nelson said. “The board of education has full confidence in his ability to handle this position and maintain the high standards of education the Orion district is known for.”

“I’m excited about the opportunity and challenges ahead, and I look forward to giving back to a community that has provided me with so much in the past,” DeBaillie said.

He and his wife Kelly have one daughter and live in Lynn Center.