Correction June 25
A Friday Courier story indicated a deputy superintendent oversaw maintenance and facilities under the school district’s previous structure. Actually, Assistant Superintendent John Lyles handled those duties. The deputy superintendent position was vacant last year. We regret the error.
The Liberty County School System has undergone many changes in the past year — some originating within the school system, others coming from the state level or higher.
One of the most significant internal developments has been the restructuring of major administrative positions and the installation of four chief officers. This restructuring has been the source of much confusion throughout the district and the community at large.
The Courier recently sat down with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Valya Lee, who explained the rationale behind the reorganization.
Lee pointed out that at the time she took office, the curriculum and instruction department was lacking the leadership and support it needed to fully meet the expectations of the state and federal departments of education. She explained that there were only three curriculum specialists, all of whom were on equal footing. With the transition to Common Core and a new teacher-evaluation program (TKES) looming, it was quickly determined that a change was necessary.
The inception of the teaching and learning department was the first step in the process. As Lee explained, “curriculum and instruction is just one aspect of teaching and learning.” The department now encompasses professional development, assessment, curriculum and instruction, and program evaluation and accountability, among other programs and services.
Under the old structure, three assistant superintendents — Jason Rogers, Mary Alexander and John Lyles — oversaw human resources/finance, student services and operations, respectively. A deputy superintendent was over maintenance and facilities, and the oversight of curriculum and instruction fell to the superintendent, in addition to the manifold other duties that position is charged with.
This structure, Lee said, was problematic.
“It’s very hard for a superintendent to be a superintendent and then effectively execute the responsibilities of a curriculum and instruction department,” she said.
To relieve this burden, an assistant superintendent for teaching and learning was named.
According to Lee, this organizational structure is essentially the one that now is in place heading into the 2014-15 school year.
“The only difference,” she said, “is their responsibilities are greater.”
Chief Administrative Officer Jason Rogers now is in charge of maintenance/facilities, buildings/grounds, athletics, transportation and food service, in addition to the HR duties he previously managed. Mary Alexander still oversees student services, but now heads teaching and learning, special education, professional learning and testing/assessment in her capacity as chief academic officer. Chief Financial Officer Roger Reese manages all money that comes into the district, to include the general fund, Title I and VI-B budgets, as well as all federal financial programs and payroll and benefits. Finally, Chief Information Officer Dr. Patti Crane heads technology, media, communications/public relations and also manages the Performing Arts Center.
In addition to consolidating duties for four chief officers, Lee dissolved any extraneous positions because, as she said, “there’s no need for duplicate responsibilities.” For example, the assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, the assistant superintendent for operations and one accountant position were eliminated, as various chief officers picked up their responsibilities. Lee also eliminated several “non-essential subordinate positions across departments,” she said.
The dissolution of superfluous positions also freed up funds that were then distributed throughout the district. While some of these funds were doled out to the newly instated chiefs as compensation for their added responsibilities, money also was apportioned to other parts of the district. This includes two furlough days given back to teachers, worth more than $870,000, according to Lee.
Overall, Lee is confident that the new organizational chart is a step in the right direction for LCSS.
“This was a win-win situation for everyone,” she said. “We have eliminated a number of top-heavy positions and realigned funds so that we could push more money down to the schools and buy certain curriculum items. That’s going to be of benefit to the students.”
For more information on the reorganization, the 2014-15 budget and many other LCSS changes, go to www.liberty.k12.ga.us and follow the link to the video gallery. The May 2014 superintendent’s report video, which was created for the benefit of LCSS faculty and staff, is available for all Liberty County residents to view.