New school plan stalled

By Greg Gelpi

An attempt to adopt a reorganization chart for the Clayton County school system fell short due to a 4-4 vote Monday night.

Ericka Davis, the ninth board member, showed up at the meeting after the vote was taken, but said she would like to see the salary ranges for the new positions, which she had asked for previously.

At the Aug. 2 meeting, Superintendent Barbara Pulliam said that none of the jobs created in the new plan had yet to be posted, but apologized Monday. A staff member alerted her that some positions had been posted, though, without the board approving the reorganization plan.

"That concerns me a great deal," Davis said, adding that it shows a "level of discombobulation."

Pulliam said she takes full responsibility, saying she "misspoke."

"It was a premature action, and I apologize for it," she said.

Board members Nedra Ware, Connie Kitchens, Carol Kellam and LaToya Walker voted for Pulliam's proposal. Board members Barbara Wells, Linda Crummy, Bob Livingston and Allen T. Johnson voted against it.

Pulliam unveiled the plan at the Aug. 2 board meeting, but the vote was pushed to Monday's meeting. At Monday's meeting, the board tabled the item until Sept. 13 after the motion failed to get a majority.

Johnson said he opposed the changes because he wanted more time to review them.

Livingston called it the "chicken before the egg" scenario, asking how a position could be posted and advertised before a job description was written.

Pulliam's proposal would save an estimated $1.2 million and could save more, since many positions could be funded with federal grant money, such as Title I, which the system already receives.

Wells questioned whether the same money could fund raises for paraprofessionals and school social workers, but Chief Academic Officer Sharon Contreras-Halton said that those funds could not legally be used that way.

Crummy wanted a larger copy of the current organizational plan to compare with the proposed plan.

The reorganization splits the school system into two branches, one focusing on the operation of the system and the other focusing on academics.

Three positions at the assistant superintendent level are cut in the plan, while six positions at various levels are created, Chief Financial Officer Lee Davis said. Through reassignments, retirements, personnel leaving the system and attrition, no one will lose a job.

Five of the six created positions would be funded through grant money, so the plan brings no additional financial burden to the system, Pulliam said. The sixth position, chief operating officer, would not be filled until funds are located to pay for the position.

The other new positions are executive director for research and evaluation, assistant superintendent for elementary schools, executive director for teaching and learning pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, director for leadership and team development and director for second language learning for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.