Four lose jobs at Central Office

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

By a narrow margin, Marshall County's School Board approved a new organizational chart for the Central Office on Monday night and it doesn't include the jobs of four current employees.

The 5-4 vote came after 45 minutes of discussion.

Schools Director Roy Dukes presented documents that indicated savings of $309,722 - achieved by eliminating the jobs of human resources director, federal bookkeeper, one administrative assistant, and a payroll person. Dukes' former job of assistant director was also cut.

"So the budget director will do the job of federal bookkeeper?" asked Board member Kristen Gold.

"Right," Dukes answered.

"It's not the same chart," Gold said, referring to the way Dukes says he intends to make two of the current supervisors into "assistant deputy directors." They would then be responsible for their own supervisory job, as well as receiving reports from three others, and doing part of the human resources job.

Board member Barbara Kennedy was concerned about the legality of the new chart. She said she had talked to Board attorney Chuck Cagle and had been told, "It's a prosecutor's dream." According to Kennedy, Cagle said the first thing sought in an employee's lawsuit would be an organizational chart and if someone had been moved up "you have changed the chart."

"It would have been good if you had Cagle call and tell me that," Dukes exclaimed, but he stuck to his plan.

Randy Perryman proposed doing away with the deputy director titles and simply divide their duties among the eight supervisors, but Craig Michael argued against this, saying it was difficult to be effective without a job title.

"When is the decision made on the deputy directors?" Gold asked.

"After you pass the chart," Dukes replied.

"Why not before?" Gold continued.

"Who do you not want to be deputy director?" Dukes countered, provoking uproar in the boardroom packed with other locally elected officials, school staff and members of the local branch of the NAACP.

Chairman Mike Keny banged his gavel for order and warned the audience to refrain from outbursts.

"As a Board we have a right to know who is going to fill these positions," Gold asserted.

"The names he puts in those blocks are his call," Keny argued.

Ann Tears tried to refocus the group, saying, "We've got to quit stalling, move forward, and approve this chart. I have confidence in Mr. Dukes. This is a whole lot better than last year."

Curt Denton agreed: "We have to approve it every year. It can change every year. We hired Dukes to run the school system: we need to support him."

Tears said, "This is what he feels he needs to do to succeed, move forward, and get back on track."

Michael also advocated approving the chart.

"Dukes needs what he thinks he needs to succeed, not what you think he needs for success. We can't move forward until he has what he thinks he needs to be successful. We need to give him the opportunity to be successful."

Benefits of the new chart, according to Gold and Michael, include cost savings, streamlined organization, and improved productivity.

When the board voted on Michael's motion to approve the organizational chart as presented, those in favor were Denton, Michael, Tears, Dee Dee Owens, and Harvey Jones. Against were Kennedy, Keny, Gold, and Perryman.