On April 2, the Washington County Board of Education presented the County Commissioners with a proposed budget document that stated the deputy superintendent position had been left vacant to pay for other positions, and did not reflect that it would be filled.
Morgan said the listing wasn't needed because the job had not been officially eliminated.
"There's no reason for us to highlight it because it's not an add-on," Morgan said. "It was there all along. I just chose to fill it a different way this year."
The deputy superintendent job has been open since Theresa Flak left in January 2001. Flak had been earning $104,187 a year.
Morgan said she used that salary toward the creation of the posts of interim executive assistant for instruction and interim executive assistant for administration for this school year. Each of those jobs pays $86,378.
The executive assistant for instruction will remain in place, Morgan said.
She said John Hull, the interim executive assistant for administration, is retiring at the end of this school year and the job will not be filled. Hull's $86,378 salary will be put toward the deputy superintendent job, Morgan said.
Morgan last summer also upgraded the job of Linda Fernandez from director of curriculum and staff development to interim executive director of curriculum and instruction to help make up for the vacant deputy superintendent position.
The plan to fill the position comes at a time when the School Board has said it's struggling to fund the basic needs, such as salary and health insurance cost increases, in the budget for the coming fiscal year, and to find money for new programs.
County Commissioners Vice President Paul Swartz said he left the April 2 budget hearing thinking the deputy superintendent position would go unfilled for another few years, and the School Board would make do with the executive assistants.
"I was under the impression that they may hold off for a while," Swartz said. "That's the way I thought they would probably keep it."
He said he hadn't heard any discussion of the deputy superintendent job being filled.
Swartz said because of a tight budget year, the School Board might want to restructure the makeup of its central office so that the deputy superintendent position won't be necessary for the next fiscal year.
"I would hope they use some common sense into their approach in the assigning of duties," he said.
Morgan said she's in the process of eliminating, reassigning and combining some administrative positions for efficiency, and that she hopes to do that yearly. She has appointed a management review team to recommend changes to central office operations, she said.
School Board member J. Herbert Hardin said it's crucial that the school system hire a deputy superintendent because it has gone without one for a year.
"We need a person that's going to be responsible for curriculum and instruction," Hardin said. "I really believe that's necessary. That position has been in our system for years. It's no new position."
Morgan said she didn't fill the deputy superintendent job when she was hired as the interim superintendent last summer because she didn't know whether she would stay on as the school chief for longer than this school year.
"I just didn't think it was fair to fill a key position and have a new superintendent come in and have a number two person that wasn't really his or her choice," she said.
Now that Morgan has signed a four-year contract, she said the deputy superintendent will play an important role in student learning, instruction and teaching.
"The deputy superintendent is a very high priority," Morgan said.
The deputy superintendent's duties include: Developing short- and long-term plans for instructional improvement, monitoring instructional expenditures in the operating budget and preparing reports for the School Board.
Morgan said the position will be filled by the end of May, and the job will start on July 1.
The School Board also is searching for a chief operating officer for next school year, a job that will pay between $76,361 to $99,648 a year. The chief operating officer will be the new title of the executive director of support services position, currently held by William McKinley. McKinley is retiring at the end of the school year. McKinley earns $96,746.
Morgan also expects that position to be filled by the end of May with a July 1 start date.