Here are the major items Andy Watson covered at yesterday afternoon’s faculty meeting:
As is usual for these events, Andy gave a presentation to the assembled teachers; there was no Q & A time offered (though I assume some faculty spoke with him privately after the session adjourned).
Andy began by announcing that re-enrollment and new admission numbers for next fall are “strong,” and applauding the work of Amy Keller and the admissions staff (who, by my lights, have one of the most difficult jobs on campus). He then moved on to discuss employees’ contracts, which are still not out; their structure and content are being revised for, as he said, “greater clarity” in terms of expectations, responsibilities and job descriptions. (He mentioned “feeling a sense of loss” because of this revision, as he believes the school works best when employees just step up for extra work that needs to be done; the issuance of more structured contracts may be, by this measure, an acknowledgement of low morale.) He’s very focused on the so-called “fifth responsibilities” of the upper school teachers (these are duties they take on in addition to teaching three or four classes, and traditionally have been pretty much all over the map). He says he’s also still waiting on finalizing budget requests, because apparently they’ve been larger than in previous years.
The new contracts will be more legalistic and will include the much-discussed “norms” established for the faculty and staff this year. The “fifth responsibilities” will include the expectation that full-time faculty will spend a minimum of 60 hours and three-quarter-time faculty will spend 45 hours over the course of the year on these activities; teachers are being asked to choose a fifth responsibility for next year by May 4th.
Andy didn’t give a date for the contracts – apparently there is still more work to do to complete them – and the budget is not yet set either. He repeatedly referenced the Board’s “five-year plan” for reining in endowment spending, and offered that he will host a meeting about that plan after the budget and contracts are finalized – we’ll be sure to publicize it on this site. (At this point, he also mentioned in passing that Gary Gordon’s slide show about the endowment will be made available on the web sometime soon – so keep an eye out for that.)
Andy made somewhat confusing statements about faculty salaries, suggesting that he was working on “benchmarking” faculty salaries against those of other independent schools and “bunching together” employees whose backgrounds and skills seem to align. I guess this means he is inching toward a salary scale? It wasn’t really clear, and again, no timeline was given.
And then Andy pivoted to a very significant aside: apparently, when he has put employees “on probation or a disciplinary status” in the past, he has told them verbally that if a raise is offered that year, they will receive only half the announced raise.
Is this legal? There are no published procedures or criteria for putting an employee on probation at Albuquerque Academy. There’s no contractual explanation of exactly what “probation” means, or how to get out of that status. There is no written policy which provides for withholding part of an employee’s compensation. How has he gotten away with this?
The good news is that Andy is rescinding this policy as of this year; he announced that teachers on probation will receive the full amount of their raises. He said that his previous policy will be written into the handbook as of next year.
I mention this especially because, as many of our readers are aware, there are a good number of very fine teachers currently on probation at Albuquerque Academy. Is this a budget-control measure?
Andy informed us that there are four finalist candidates for the new CFO position, and that he is looking into consolidating some jobs in the business office. He’s also looking at adding resources for deans and division heads, as well as ensuring administrative positions are “as effective as possible.”
And finally, he felt bad about attending only a few athletic events and performances this winter and spring, and neglecting his travels for fundraising as well. He’s had to cancel some trips because of the need to be on campus to address the issues raised by this website and Mr. Hibbett, though he did not mention us by name. We appreciate the attention all the same.