Posted: Monday, July 30th 2012 at 10:16pm
Habersham County Schools restructure administrative staffing
By Rob Moore Editor
Habersham County School Superintendent Matthew Cooper presents his plan to restructure several administrative positions in the school system for efficiency. (Photo/Rob Moore)
CLARKESVILLE – The Habersham County Board of Education voted Monday morning to make changes to the composition of the system’s current and planned administrative structure.
“The first thing we had to do was identify our current system needs,” said Superintendent Matthew Cooper. “We identified those as we need help with finance and budget; we needed help with facilities – desperate for help there; then we needed more administrative support at the ninth grade academy; then ultimately as superintendent I need somebody that can help me with some of the day-to-day responsibilities of serving the school system. Those are the four areas that we identified a need.”
Initially, the board of education had authorized the system to advertise for an assistant superintendent.
“We had looked at an assistant superintendent coming in and helping us meet those needs, but as we looked at the budget and we began to look at our current staff and current positions that we had in the budget, how we could utilize those more efficiently and still meet our needs,” Cooper said.
“My recommendation is that we take the assistant superintendent’s position off the table, at least for this year,” Cooper said. “I recommend that we meet our needs with the current staff and positions that are already in the budget.”
Instead of hiring an assistant superintendent to serve as a finance officer and facilities coordinator, Cooper recommended hiring a chief financial officer to begin work Sept. 1, the day after the retirement of a payroll employee in the finance office.
“We first looked at the finance need,” Cooper said. “We have a position right now in the finance office that is going to come open Sept. 1. It’s a payroll position. We looked at modifying that position to make it a chief financial officer. If you look at systems in our RESA, nearly every system has a chief financial officer with an accounting background.”
“If we can have a chief financial officer working with Holly Berry, we’ll have a strong team and I believe the best finance office in this RESA,” Cooper said.
Cooper recommended naming former Interim Superintendent Larry Hill as administrative assistant for facilities, a new full-time position through June 30, 2013. Hill also will be available to assist Cooper with day-to-day responsibilities in the system.
“The second need, facilities, we have Larry Hill right now who has just done a tremendous job helping with transition to the new superintendent here,” Cooper said. “Larry really has an interest in facilities. So what we’ve recommended and the board has approved is Larry stay on full-time through June 30.”
The ninth grade academy position will be handled a little differently.
“We are going to add an assistant principal there, and since Larry’s helping with facilities, we’re going to be able to combine the alternative school with the ninth grade academy,” Cooper said.
Hill has served in a part-time capacity as principal of the alternative school except during his time as interim school superintendent.
The relocation of the alternative school from the former Fairview Elementary School will take place quickly. A subsequent meeting was held Monday afternoon to finalize those details.
Cooper and Hill believe that will save the system money in several ways.
“We think that will be more efficient,” Cooper said. “It will save us money on transportation costs, food services, utilities, many things. It’s just a smart move for our school system to move the alternative school to the ninth grade academy.”
Cooper committed that the new alternative school area will be situated such that students there will have no interaction or contact with HNGA students. Secure doors will be installed, and students will enter through a different part of campus.
“To alleviate concerns, we’re going to have a secure area there at the ninth grade academy so that the alternative school students will be completely separate from the students at the ninth grade academy,” Cooper said. “We’ve got a good plan in place to make that happen.”
That plan includes isolating a back hallway at the ninth grade academy to house the alternative school. Those classrooms will be served by their own restrooms, and food will be brought in for the students rather than students leaving the secured area at any point.
“All in all, we’re going to be able to meet our needs and save a lot of money,” Cooper said. “We’re saving, I estimate, between $75,000 and $100,000 by this restructuring plan.”
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