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Clayton BOE eases hiring freeze

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Board of Education voted Thursday during a budget work session to temporarily thaw a nearly four-month-old hiring freeze, to fill several vacant positions throughout the school system.

The board voted 6-0 to fill some district-wide and school-level positions. A hiring freeze for all positions that did not deal with student health, safety and academic achievement was put in place by former Superintendent John Thompson in January. Two months later, the board implemented an additional hiring freeze for all central office employees.

Thompson was fired by the school board last month.

On Thursday, the board approved lifting the hiring freezes so Interim Superintendent Valya Lee can hire - with board approval - principals at Lovejoy High School and Smith Elementary School, a coordinator of elementary math, an executive director of professional learning and a special education behavior interventionist.

"These are critical positions that need to be filled - as long as they come before the board," said school board Chairperson Alieka Anderson.

Lee said lifting the hiring freeze will also allow her to offer new contracts to several Clayton County teachers who are in a pool of employees that were not offered new contracts for the 2009-10 school year last month. As many as 100 teachers are in that pool to receive new contracts as positions become available.

The teachers who are offered new contracts will teach at the Elite Scholars Academy Charter School, which is set to open in August, Lee said. The interim superintendent also said she was not sure if she will be able to offer new contracts to several paraprofessionals whose positions are being eliminated as part of a reduction in force.

"We don't know what their allotment will be [for paraprofessionals]," Lee said.

Aside from filling these positions, the hiring freezes will remain in place, according to Anderson.

A presentation on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2010 offered no changes from a version that was presented last week. The board is scheduled to vote on approving the budget at a May 4 business meeting.

Board members Wanda Smith and Trinia Garrett did not attend the work session. Board member Michael King attended the meeting, but briefly stepped out of the board room when the vote on temporarily lifting the hiring freezes was taken.