The Richmond County Board of Education approved a search for two senior administrative positions Tuesday after Superintendent Frank Roberson argued that filling the positions would “help move the school system forward.”
Roberson asked the board to consider filling the vacant assistant superintendent of high schools position and a “downgrade” of the assistant superintendent of student services position to a directorship, allowing it to be filled more easily. Roberson said filling the positions would take stress off his staff.
“We are currently discussing where we could align the duties,” Roberson said. “We can make changes to reduce the weight some are currently dealing with. It’s all about procedure and process. If we make this change, things will begin to improve for us almost immediately.”
The assistant superintendent of high schools position has been vacant since November 2012, after Lynn Warr retired from the school system. The assistant superintendent of student services position opened after Carol Rountree retired in April of this year.
Assistant superintendents analyze district education data and oversee principals. Assistant superintendents of student services coordinate school nurses and social workers and disseminate public information.
Changing the student services position into a directorship could save the school system “around $40,000,” according to Controller Gene Spires. Spires added the saved funds would ensure that filling the two positions would not drastically impact the budget.
Some board members were not convinced. Barbara Pulliam said placing interim employees into the position would be better than advertising for permanent positions as the administration would be changing later this year.
“We’ve been without these positions for years. Why rush now? I don’t think we need someone right now,” Pulliam said. “We are about to change leadership positions anyway. Why not just wait for them to decide how they want it to go?”
Alex Howard agreed. Howard advised waiting until a new superintendent has been selected.
“I think we need to make sure they have that flexibility,” he said. “Maybe the new superintendent will want to bring recommendations of his or her own.”
Others felt action needed to be taken as soon as possible. Marion Barnes said not trying to fill the positions soon would “hold up progress.”
“They need help. We need to help them,” Barnes said. “I don’t see what’s wrong with doing this. We’ll fill these positions, save up some money and give our staff what they need.”
Jimmy Atkins also saw no need to “sit on our hands.”
“We have criticized others before for not moving quickly enough,” he said. “They’re stretched. We need to fill the positions now.”
The board passed a motion, 5-2, allowing Roberson to advertise the two positions. Pulliam and Howard both voted no.