Schools document leaked

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Marshall County schools' document - provided only to school board members at their meeting Monday - was faxed anonymously to the Tribune on Tuesday.

Schools Director Roy Dukes withheld release of a copy of an organizational chart for the schools central office on the grounds that the board had not approved it. On Wednesday, he said he prepared the chart that shows jobs in a chain of command.

At the bottom of the chart faxed to the newspaper were hand written words saying, "Strange coincidence? Mr. Michael's opponent's wife's position has been eliminated... with no explanation or justification."

This refers to school board member Craig Michael whose bid for re-election is challenged by Donnie Moses, husband of Teresa Moses, a central office employee.

"Who would do something like that?" Dukes asked during a news interview when he was shown a copy of the fax.

Nothing is certain with regard to his proposed personnel organization chart, the recently promoted schools director said.

"It could change in a lot of ways," Dukes continued. "The board has the ultimate input on things. It may not look like that at all."

Asked for his reaction, board member Craig Michael said, "It doesn't surprise me... That's what you get when you put yourself out there."

Michael said he looks forward to the special-called meeting of the school board on Monday night when the panel is to be provided more explanations on the organizational chart drafted by Dukes.

Teresa Moses had not seen the chart, but when the hand-written comment was read to her, said, "That is a coincidence." She explained that she does lots of finance-related jobs at Central Office, including acting as federal projects bookkeeper.

"I assume a board member sent you that," Teresa Moses concluded.

Dukes' chart has no names on it, only positions. It shows directors of finance, maintenance, transportation, and school principals reporting direct to Dukes, along with two deputy directors. The technology, food service, special education, and federal programs supervisors report to one deputy director; and the attendance/testing, coordinated school health, elementary, and secondary supervisors report to the other.

Dukes told the Board that he does not intend to hire new people to fill the deputy directors' slots, but will simply re-assign duties at the central office.

In contrast, former director Stan Curtis' chart from February 2009 is filled with names and is more complicated. It shows Teresa Moses reporting directly to Budget Director Janet Wiles. Dukes' chart has only "Payroll" and "Accounts Payable" reporting to the Budget Director. Federal Programs Supervisor (FPS) Linda Williams-Lee would report to one of the new deputy directors.

Board members learned more about the federal budget from Williams-Lee at an information session Thursday afternoon. Funding for the school system comes from three sources: federal, state and local. Board members approved the federal budget at their Monday meeting. They were reluctant at first to pass something they hadn't seen, but when Williams-Lee explained that her budget was in compliance, and that the board was really not at liberty to make changes to it, they approved it 5-4.

There is not much flexibility with the state money either. The Basic Education Program (BEP) is the funding formula through which state education dollars are generated and distributed to Tennessee schools. It is the local funding, from the County Commission, which causes the most debate.

Dukes has been Marshall County School System employee since 1966, and says he has never seen finances so tough.

"It's going to be hard to balance the revenue with what we need," he said. As a long-time educator, he hates to see budgetary constraints limit educational opportunities.

"The better we prepare our children, the better it will be for the next generation," Dukes concluded.