District updates school climate coordinator position

About a year after the position was created, Wilton Public Schools’ district safe school climate coordinator position — previously referred to as “threat assessment coordinator” — has yet to be filled.
Due to the long vacancy, the job description has been altered and the salary has been upped in an attempt to widen the pool of applicants.
The Board of Education budgeted $85,000 for the position in its fiscal year 2015 budget.
Superintendent Kevin Smith told the Board of Education at its July 23 meeting the coordinator job description was updated after “talking through some issues” with the Wilton Security Task Force, district staff, and forensic psychologist and threat assessment expert David Bernstein.

Purpose


Since the old job description did not clearly identify the purpose of the position, said Dr. Smith, the job goal was updated.
The description now says the district safe school climate coordinator is responsible for:

  • Providing leadership in the detection, assessment and management of internal threats to the schools.

  • Leading the district’s threat assessment teams to assess and interpret student behaviors and actions of concern that may indicate the possibility of a threat.

  • Coordinating the school administration and faculty on efforts to create a positive climate for all students making it possible for each child in develop a supportive relationship with at least one  staff member.


Credentials


Dr. Smith said the credentials listed in the job description also needed to be broadened. Prior to the revision, the position called for either a state-certified school psychologist or state-certified school social worker.
“Those two qualifications don’t necessarily capture the kind of forensic work needed for this position ... the deep kind of threat assessment we’re looking for,” said Dr. Smith.
In the revised job description, two more qualifications have been added — state-licensed clinical psychologists and state-licensed clinical social workers.
Assistant Superintendent of Special Services Ann Paul — to whom the safe school climate coordinator will report — said while strong clinical skills and experience working with school-aged children are important, she does not think school certification is essential.
Required qualifications and experience for the job include:

  • Strong experience and training as a clinical practitioner.

  • Deep knowledge and expertise about threat assessment processes in school environment.

  • Strong experience and training in working with children and adolescents.

  • Knowledge about successful programs focused upon improving school climate and bullying prevention.

  • Ability to work effectively as part of a multi-disciplinary team.


Compensation


One reason why the position has remained vacant, Paley said during the board’s March 26 meeting, is because of the pay.
For someone with the credentials sought for the position, Human Resources Director Susan Paley said, it “doesn’t pay enough. It pays $70,000.”
Along with the other changes, the compensation level has been adjusted to align with teacher salaries, said Dr. Smith. It now ranges from $100,000 to $120,000, “depending upon credentials and experience.”
Dr. Smith said he believes the safe school climate coordinator position is going to be “very pivotal” and “take the district very far forward in achieving the board’s goal” of ensuring students’ safety.
“This is a very unique position. There is no other like it that we know if in any other schools — at least here in Connecticut,” he said.
“I think it speaks to the values of this community and what people desire for the students and the schools.”




Click here to view the updated job description.
Click here to view the old job description, visit.