School board scheduled to vote on Bellview principal layoff

Just three votes at Monday's school board meeting will be enough to change the course of Bellview Elementary School Principal Christine McCollom's career.

Her job will be one of five on the chopping block at the meeting, as the board considers a third round of district budget cuts, recommended by Superintendent Juli Di Chiro.

"These are all very difficult, terrible choices," said School Board Chair Mat Marr. "We're considering doing things none of us thought we would have to do."

If the five-member board approves the layoffs at the 7 p.m. meeting in Ashland Middle School's cafeteria, McCollom, who has served as principal for three years, will be replaced by senior administrator Michelle Zundel, whose current position as director of education will be eliminated.

Di Chiro's announcement last month that another administrator "drew lots" in her office to determine McCollom should be let go — and that no one else witnessed the event — angered some parents of Bellview students and community members who felt McCollom had been unfairly singled out.

But Di Chiro said the process was fair and was done according to McCollom's contract with the district.

McCollom has not returned phone or e-mail messages seeking comment.

The third round of cuts also means a part-time educational assistant, a district office employee, a part-time secretary and a part-time custodian would loose their jobs.

The recession has shrunk state resources, leaving school districts, such as Ashland's, scrambling for cash to make ends meet next year.

If the board approves the cuts Monday, 141 employees — out of a total of about 370 in the district — will have been affected by the three rounds of cuts, either through job losses, shortened hours or transfers within the district, according to Di Chiro.

However, the board could vote down the cuts and decide to trim the budget another way, Marr said.

"The boards going to vote, and it's all a public process," he said. "I don't think anyone's laying bets on how it's going to turn out."

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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