School system changes proposed

By Greg Gelpi

The Clayton County school system is considering the second phase of its reorganization.

Cutting a number of positions, including three assistant superintendent positions, combining other positions and other personnel and departmental restructuring are among the proposed changes that could save the school system about $1.2 million.

Many of those positions, including the assistant superintendent positions, will be lost through attrition, rather than laying off employees, according to school officials.

Personnel structural changes in the proposal include changing the three area assistant superintendents in charge of geographic regions into assistant superintendents in charge of school levels. Two would be in charge of elementary schools and the third would oversee middle and high schools.

"So far from what I know, I like where (Superintendent Barbara Pulliam) is leading," board member Ericka Davis said. "I like where we're going. It seemed like we were only planning for the year we were in (before Pulliam's administration)."

Davis said that while Clayton County has changed demographically, it hasn't changed its thinking and its mindset.

"Some things don't require a specialist degree in education," Davis said. "They require common sense. If you keep doing what you're doing, you keep getting what you're getting."

The proposed changes are cost effective, she said. Some of the positions would be funded through grant money, alleviating some of the "financial pressure" on the school system. The school board agreed to cut a number of positions, including two assistant superintendent positions, in its fiscal year 2005 budget to address state budget cuts.

One new position will address the needs of students who speak English as a second language.

"I am excited about having someone who will focus on their educational needs," Davis said.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires that schools make adequate yearly progress in all subgroups, including Hispanic groups of students.

Pulliam said that restructuring the school was atop her agenda when she became the head of the school system in February.

In the first phase of the restructuring, Pulliam with board approval changed the positions of assistant to the superintendent to chief of staff and deputy superintendent to chief academic officer in March.

The Clayton County school system, a system of about 51,000 students, has 10 assistant superintendent positions.

The city of Atlanta school system, a system comparable in size to Clayton County's system, has two assistant superintendents and about 10 senior administrators who are in the superintendent's cabinet.

The Henry County school system with about 30,000 students has three assistant superintendents. In comparison, the DeKalb County school system has three assistant superintendents and about 20 administrators in the superintendent's cabinet. Fulton County has 15 administrators answering to the superintendent and about 75,000 students. Fayette County, a system of about 21,000 students, has two assistant superintendents.

"I made very few changes in my administration," said Dan Colwell, a former superintendent who placed many of the senior administrators who are leaving the system. "To be honest, I haven't seen any proposed changes."

Colwell created two assistant superintendent positions. He split the Curriculum and Instruction Department into two to have an assistant superintendent over elementary and one over secondary education. He also made the position of assistant superintendent for support services and continuous improvements.

Joe Hairston, who was superintendent before Colwell, made the positions of assistant superintendent of auxiliary services, student services and personnel, Colwell said.

The coordinator-level positions of recruiter and personnel investigator were also created under Colwell's administration.

The school board is expected to consider the reorganization plan at its next regular meeting set for July 12.