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Schools' proposed reorganization to 'realign resources'

May 12, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY

The elimination of the school system's chief operating officer position is one of the changes in a reorganization that will be proposed during the Washington County Board of Education's next meeting, Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said.

"The reorganization is designed to make the organization more efficient ... and various other factors ... to focus on other areas of the school system that need attention," Morgan said Thursday by cell phone.

Though Morgan refused to discuss details of the reorganization, she acknowledged the elimination of the chief operating officer position is among the changes.

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"Yes, his job has been eliminated from the organization, but he has not been asked to step down," Morgan said.

A phone call to G. William Blum, who has served as chief operating officer for nearly four years, was disconnected after a reporter identified herself. He did not call back Thursday night.

With growing enrollment and aging facilities, board member Roxanne R. Ober said she believes the school system's business operations never have faced so many challenges.

"So, I think we have to realign our resources to this new growth that's coming in, and in that respect, it can't be business as usual," Ober said.

The reorganization has been discussed, and the board has been briefed about some of the changes in closed sessions, within at least the last two months, she said.

In an interview Thursday, Morgan said she would not publicly discuss details of the other aspects of the reorganization until Tuesday's board meeting.

"I think it's my prerogative to do it when I want to do it, and I'm doing it Tuesday," Morgan said.

The changes, which still were being worked out, are designed to increase efficiency, Board of Education President W. Edward Forrest and board member Wayne D. Ridenour said.

"That was the reasoning behind it, that there are some positions that we could consolidate, some that we could eliminate, maybe some people that we could move," for greater efficiency, Ridenour said.

Forrest and Vice President Jacqueline B. Fischer both noted that Morgan, who signed a new contract in March, is beginning a new four-year term as superintendent, and they compared the possible moves to the Cabinet decisions of a newly re-elected President.

"I know the superintendent's been working on that, just like any general has to reorganize the staff every once in a while," Fischer said.

While Fischer said she did not anticipate "super-major" changes, she indicated in a phone call Thursday that she believed the restructuring will affect some upper-level staff.

"We're just talking about positions at the board, fairly top-level positions at the board," Fischer said.

Both Blum and Morgan came to Washington County Public Schools from Baltimore City Public Schools, where Blum had worked as director of finance operations. At the time of the announcement of Blum's hire in June 2002, Morgan was finishing out a term as interim superintendent on loan from Baltimore.

Blum assumed the new position of chief operating officer, replacing Executive Director of Support Services Bill McKinley, who retired, according to reports.

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