As part of her “100-Days Entry Plan,” Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee recommended Tuesday the board reorganize its senior-level staff to “eliminate critical barriers to academic success” and ensure that the system operates more effectively.
The board concurred and voted to approve Lee’s proposed senior-level organizational chart and “downgrade” the deputy superintendent position by creating a position of assistant superintendent for operations. Lee said the downgrade would save the district $33,000.
Board members also agreed to change the title of executive director for curriculum and instruction to executive director for teaching and learning. Whoever is appointed as the new executive director will assist the assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, Lee said.
Dr. Debbie Rodriguez was appointed in June to serve as the interim assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. Her job duties include curriculum and instruction, professional learning, federal programs, testing and assessment, and special programs such as gifted and the early intervention program.
In adopting the new organizational chart, the board also agreed to delay the hiring of a deputy superintendent and director of transportation until school year 2014. Lee said the deputy superintendent position could be reinstated later, in a future budget cycle. She explained the transportation responsibilities — along with oversight of facilities and maintenance, communications and public relations, food services and athletics — would fall under the title of assistant superintendent for operations.
The former system deputy superintendent, Dr. Cheryl Conley, left the system this summer to begin her tenure as school superintendent for Treutlen County. In February, the board voted not to renew former LCSS transportation director Tony Norce’s contract. Norce had served three years in that capacity. An official reason for his dismissal from transportation was never given. Norce was appointed principal of Snelson-Golden Middle School in June.
At the end of the work session, board members entered into a closed session to discuss personnel.
John Lyles was appointed interim assistant superintendent for operations, pending a two-week notice to his current employer, Lee said. Lyles currently is the transportation director for the Atlanta Public Schools system, she said.
The board also made permanent Michelle Dasher’s interim role as director of personnel and human resources, the superintendent said. In addition, the board approved a list of new hires regarding teacher and bus driver positions, according to Lee. Several transfers also were approved due to changes in student enrollment, she said.
In other school board business:
• LCSS Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Jason Rogers provided the board costs for extended-year positions and supplements for informational purposes. Rogers said now is the time for a conversation about these budgetary issues, so board members can consider any changes they might want to make prior to the next budget year and before contracts are signed for the 2014-15 school year. Counselors, coaches, social workers, school psychologists, media specialists, assistant principals and some central-office positions are among those who work an extended year, according to Rogers. He listed a total cost of $738,112.34 for extended days for certified staff.
• The school system will make an effort to better publicize Georgia Virtual Schools and online learning opportunities for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Mary Alexander told the board. GVS classes cost $250 per half-credit course. All state public-school students will have their tuitions paid by their local school board if they take a GVS class as part of the school day.
Alexander said online courses already are offered in system schools. She explained that students can take online classes in a school’s media center or at the Liberty College and Career Academy. School board Vice Chairwoman Carol Guyett said she thinks there is a “no-penalty drop period” so that if a student drops a GVS class, neither the parent nor the district would be charged. Alexander said the Georgia Virtual website will be posted on the school system’s website along with the guidelines for taking an online course.
• The system will fully implement the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System for all teachers and have a modified implementation for the Leader Keys Effectiveness System for principals in all schools, Alexander informed the board. TKES/LKES are new systems for educator evaluation and professional growth, according to the Georgia Department of Education website. These systems are part of the Race to the Top Initiative and are designed for building teacher effectiveness throughout Georgia, according to doe.k12.ga.us.
• School-board members approved a contract for autism consultant Dr. Lorrie Spencer, a board-certified behavior analyst, at a cost of $1,500 a month. The board also agreed to an $8,000 a month contract for occupational and physical therapy services with West Rehab Services Inc. of Richmond Hill.
• School-board members voted to renew a child-find agreement with Head Start to identify and evaluate any student who might have a disability. Lee said there is no cost for this partnership.
• The board discussed hosting a meet-and-greet for Dr. Lee, tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 1 at Bradwell Institute. Details will be posted on the school system website, liberty.k12.ga.us.