Positions at Washington County Public Schools' Central Office being restructured

February 27, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE |

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Several positions at the Washington County Public Schools’ Central Office are being restructured in a move that converts 18 central office positions to school-level positions such as classroom teachers, according to Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox.

The restructuring, which takes effect July 1, was not driven by cost or budget cuts, though there will be a savings, Wilcox said Thursday. Some central office positions will be eliminated and personnel will be moved to school-level positions, filling positions left empty by retirements or resignations, he said.

“The bottom line is we just want to be able to deliver services in a more efficient and effective manner,” Wilcox said.

The result will be three fewer supervisors and one less coordinator position at the central office, Wilcox said. Whether those four people will need to reapply for jobs or be reassigned had not been determined, school system officials said.

The net effect will be 18 fewer teacher-level positions at the central office, Wilcox said.

In addition, the school system’s 46 student achievement specialists, who work in schools, will need to reapply for jobs with the school system, Wilcox said.

Those employees might be among the applicants for 46 revamped positions, which will become lead teachers, school system officials said. The lead teacher positions will be 90 percent the same as the student achievement specialist positions, Wilcox said. After the restructuring, there will be 46 lead teachers in schools, with other lead teachers working at the central office, school system officials said.

No one will outright lose their job due to the restructuring, Wilcox said. Some people might decide they don’t want to apply for a different job, he said.

“This is a tough economy. We didn’t want to turn people loose. We wanted to be responsible and respectful,” Wilcox said.

The changes were made due to no fault of the employees, Wilcox said.

“Every business has to reinvent itself from time to time. This is one of those moments in time for us,” Wilcox said.

When he was named superintendent last July, the school board asked Wilcox to conduct a review and to provide a report, Wilcox said. The changes developed by Wilcox and his executive team were discussed with the school board, the superintendent’s leadership team and principals, Wilcox said.

In a 5-2 vote Tuesday, the school board approved personnel moves that included six positions affected by the restructuring. Board members Donna Brightman and Karen Harshman voted against the personnel moves.

Harshman said Thursday that she listened to citizens’ concerns about some central office staff and could not vote for some of the personnel moves related to the restructuring. Harshman said there were better choices for some of the people chosen for the restructured positions.

Brightman said she supported the reorganization in general, but disagreed with a couple of the choices related to the reorganization.

The six moves approved Tuesday were:

  • Jill Burkhart, director of elementary education, will become assistant director for elementary specialized programs and Title 1.
  • Steven P. Wernick, supervisor of elementary reading, social studies and early learning, will become director for elementary and middle school education.
  • Beth A. Downin, supervisor of secondary reading and literacy, will become supervisor of English/Language Arts for kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Evelyn C. Williams, supervisor of secondary social studies, will become supervisor of social studies for kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Sandra S. Graff, supervisor of secondary science, will become supervisor of science for kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Kara L. Reed, supervisor of elementary math/science, will become supervisor of mathematics for kindergarten through 12th grade.

Wilcox said the board is expected to vote at its March 6 meeting on a recommendation to remove the “acting” from Richard Akers’ title.

Akers is acting director of secondary education, which includes middle and high schools. He is recommended to become director of high school and student services, school system officials said.

The moves to consolidate subject supervisory positions to cover kindergarten through 12th grade create stronger continuity for instruction in schools, Wilcox said.

Having supervisors for kindergarten through 12th grade will help the school system prepare for the Maryland Common Core, school system officials said. A revised curriculum is being developed for the 2013-14 school year that is based on the Common Core State Standards, an effort driven by the states and coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The consolidation of the subject supervisory positions affects other positions at the central office.

While there previously were two math supervisors who each had four curriculum instructional support specialists, now there will be one math supervisor with four lead teachers, Wilcox said.

The school system’s two assistant superintendents will have title changes with some duty changes, Wilcox said.

Donna Hanlin, the assistant superintendent for curriculum, school administration and improvement, will become associate superintendent and chief academic officer, school system spokesman Richard Wright said.

Mike Markoe, the assistant superintendent for student and staff support, will become associate superintendent for educational improvement and innovation, Wright said.

The special-education director will report to Hanlin rather than Markoe, Wilcox said. Markoe’s additional duties will involve overseeing struggling schools and schools involved with Teacher Incentive Fund grants.

Position salaries did not change, Wilcox said.

Wilcox said he didn’t believe anyone would be taking a pay cut because of the restructuring, although there is one assistant director position that was filled by a director, so that situation will need to be evaluated.

There were no pay raises for affected positions, though one employee will have a pay change because he went from a supervisor to a director, Wilcox said.

The restructuring at the central office will affect some support staff assigned to restructured positions, but with retirements and resignations, there will be other jobs available, Wilcox said.

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