'New' or 'retitled' jobs to be posted by schools

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Some school board members agreed to disagree with their attorney about whether the two deputy director positions are "new" or "re-titled" jobs, but by a vote of 5-4 they approved the job descriptions so that the vacancies can be posted.

Also at the special called meeting Tuesday, the board agreed to cut staff at the Alternative School from three teachers to two, saving about $53,000 per year.

To start the meeting, schools director Roy Dukes handed copies of the two job descriptions to board members. At his recommendation, they made some hand-written changes, inserting the word "significant" in front of "supervisory experience in ... education," removing the requirement that the applicant already be in a central office position, and adding the statement that a deputy director may be a member of the board's negotiating team for teacher contract talks.

Dukes assured board members that he had an evaluation procedure in place that would be used for deputy director candidates.

This fulfilled the requirements stipulated by the board's attorney Sam Jackson, who had told them they had to have a job description and an evaluation procedure for what he defined as new jobs. The Board of Education's contract with the Marshall County Education Association specifies that all new jobs must be posted to give qualified personnel a chance to apply.

"The Board creates positions. The director fills them," Jackson said. "These are new positions because they did not exist previously. Even if you don't pay them a dime, it's an upward promotion." The attorney went on to say that whatever was done, board members would have to vote to agree or disagree with changes to the organizational chart they had already approved.

Chairman Mike Keny clarified with Dukes that a school principal could have the "significant supervisory experience" necessary for a deputy director.

Dukes originally said he wants to draw his two deputy directors from the pool of eight supervisors already at the central office. It remained unclear what would happen if an applicant from outside that eight were chosen.

"When we approved the organizational chart, the discussion was that it would not add another person; potentially now it could," board member Barbara Kennedy said.

Jackson said, "You guys can change this organizational chart any time you want," and Kennedy exclaimed, "I have profound concerns about this."

"We have a school system grinding to a halt," board member Craig Michael said. "We can't move forward until we have the positions filled."

Voting "yes" to Michael's motion to approve the job descriptions with the changes as suggested, and with the evaluation procedure added, were, Keny, Michael, Curt Denton, Dee Dee Owens and Ann Tears. Voting "no" were Kennedy, Gold, Jones, and Randy Perryman.

Board members went on to discuss budgetary matters, but the only cut they approved was at the Alternative School, where the staff of three teachers was reduced to two. The budget savings will be about $53,000 a year. The lone dissenter in the vote to approve this change was Keny.

Beverly Miller, supervisor of secondary education, explained that Lewisburg Middle School has three Special Education teachers, and one of them will work in the Alternative School as needed.

Another possibility for reducing the budget was Kennedy's suggestion to change all the 12-month contracts to 11 months.

"It would save $103,000," Kennedy said, adding that some could even go from 12 months to 10 months.

Dukes opposed that: "With all the new things coming down, we need principals for 12 months. Principals are working through the summer to get teachers ready for students to come in. If you work with students you have to work 12 months."

Westhills Elementary School principal Sherry Park was present and board members asked her to explain how she managed with an 11-month contract.

"I agreed to 11 months so I could be home with my child," said Park. "I am doing school work all the time."

Michael countered: "It's a different day and a different time. I have full confidence in Dukes and the principals to work it out."

The school board abandoned the idea of having a budget ready for the county commission on July 1. Gold said they must present a budget to the education committee first, and then the commission's budget committee will give them a date.

The education committee will meet at 5 p.m. before the county commission's monthly meeting on Monday. The school board scheduled another work session for 6:30 p.m. July 8.