ROCK HALL — Dale Brown will serve as the interim principal for Kent County High School in the 2019-2020 school year.

The Kent County Board of Education held a special 8 a.m. meeting Tuesday, June 25, during which President Joe Goetz, Vice President Trish McGee and member Nivek Johnson unanimously approved the new hires. Board members Bryan Williams and Wendy Costa did not attend the meeting.

Superintendent Karen Couch said the district still is advertising for a high school principal, but Brown can apply for the job if he chooses to do so.

“He has agreed to be the interim principal for up to a year,” Couch said.

Brown previously worked for Caroline County Public Schools, where he wore many hats during his 35 years there. He retired as principal of Lockerman Middle School in Denton in 2011 but was lured out of retirement the following year by a school in Delaware.

Brown previously taught sixth grade at Federalsburg Elementary School. He also taught at Denton Elementary School and Lockerman Middle School. In 1989, he began his tenure as principal of Federalsburg Elementary School, which was followed by his time as principal of Lockerman Middle School.

Brown is an Oxford native and a graduate of Easton High School. He attended Bowie State University.

KCHS also has a new assistant principal, Emma Fulton, who Couch said previously was working in Baltimore County.

Fulton has a master’s in education leadership and administration from Goucher College. For her undergraduate degree, she studied mathematical science and education at Kean University in New Jersey. Fulton also served as principal of Arrow Child and Family Ministries in Baltimore.

Kent County Middle School has a new assistant principal, Joseph Graf, who previously worked for Cecil County Public Schools. Graf was employed at Bohemian Manor High School, where he coached the football team there for seven years.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Couch said the Career and Technology Education pathway in culinary arts offered at KCHS still is being reduced to a part-time program, though teacher John Keller will remain a full-time staff member.

When Couch presented the district’s budget to the Kent County commissioners during a June 20 meeting, Tom Mason, president of the commissioners, was adamant that the culinary arts programs remain an offering at KCHS. With the original idea to reduce Kellers’ job to a halftime position, Mason said he would be forced to find another full time job essentially eliminating the program.

“But you are going to eliminate the program if you now try to pay the teacher half a salary. I mean, let’s face it, a person can’t live on half a salary,” Mason said. “I don’t know how much we’re talking about, $30,000 is that half his salary? I don’t know.”

Mason suggested Couch take money from the district’s fund balance to pay Keller and keep the program running.

“I’m trying to help you make the decision. Keep the position. Take it out of your fund balance and see what happens,” Mason said. “I mean, it’s not a hard decision to make.”

Goetz said the team at Kent County Public Schools “looks at everything” to find ways to balance the budget and keep as many CTE pathways and sports programming as possible available to students.

“We’re trying to do the best we can and we’re trying to do it in a way that tries to maintain the integrity of our programs. We’re trying to keep everything that we have,” Couch said. “We’re proud of what we have. But at some point, we have to be honest about whether we can continue to afford what we have.”

At Tuesday’s board of education meeting, Couch said as the district’s food service manager has retired, Keller will be taking on some of those duties.

“That will round him out to a full-time position,” Couch said.

She said a portion of his salary now will be paid using the restricted fund balance for food service.

“That really helps us for one year and so we’ll just have to see how we can move forward,” Couch said.

Couch said district staff also were able to build a schedule where all the students participating in the Teacher Academy of Maryland pathway are grouped into one period, meaning that program will run for an additional year.

“There will be no reduction in any of the pathways,” Couch said. “But as I stated, you know, we need to be very cautious. This is really a year to year decision and certainly if, you know, we come to a point next year and we have to reduce budget, you know, we may have to consider a reduction of a pathway.”

Couch said the board still may need to start a discussion about reducing its sports programs, notably jayvee offerings that do not have enough students to fill a roster.

Also, the board approved one step and 1% increases in salary for the Kent County Teachers Association and the Kent County Education Support Professionals Association.

The board will hold a special meeting at 8 a.m. Monday, July 15, at the district’s administrative office in Rock Hall. Open session will immediately be followed by closed session. The open session should resume at 8:30 a.m.

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