Local News

March 28, 2013

New schools chief switches staffing, ends Schlechty partnership

Whitfield County Schools Superintendent Judy Gilreath said she and other officials have mulled for some time concerns that several administrative positions weren’t being used as effectively as they could be.

There was also concern about the separate issue of teachers being pulled away from the classroom for professional development that, while helpful, still took them away from their students. The recently appointed schools chief publicly announced on Wednesday several measures to address those concerns and others after meeting with staff about them the day before.

The changes include moving Southeast Whitfield High School Principal Karey Williams into the position of assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. Audrey Williams — no relation — had that title along with other responsibilities after then-assistant superintendent Dusty Brown retired a year ago.

Now Audrey Williams will become chief officer over assessment, accountability and educational technology once the changes take effect July 1. That move essentially places Audrey Williams back into a job similar to the one she held before Brown’s retirement when Gilreath said she, Williams and former superintendent Danny Hayes split Brown’s responsibilities to save money on hiring a replacement.

Just three years ago, there were four assistant superintendents. Then there were budget cuts, retirements and more budget cuts. Hayes announced weeks ago he planned to retire at the end of the month. Board members hired Gilreath, then an assistant superintendent, to take his place. Come July, there will be just one assistant superintendent.

Gilreath said a number of other personnel shifts will streamline the district’s administration so that instead of having 34 people reporting directly to the superintendent, there will be just eight. For example, school principals currently report to her directly, but under the new plan they’ll work with the assistant superintendent and directors of various departments. Rather than the superintendent by herself, the superintendent, assistant superintendent and a curriculum specialist for the principal’s grade level will conduct yearly evaluations.

“That doesn’t mean that I’m not still ultimately the supervisor, and that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to work with them and do what I need to continue to support them,” she added.

Board of Education Chairman Louis Fordham said officials will know more about the financial impact of all the changes once the budget is in place and the board has issued teacher contracts that must go out by May 15. They changes are expected to be close to cost neutral.

“Some of the changes that are coming out now, it’s important to know that Judy didn’t sort of walk in and say, ‘I want to make all of these changes,’” Fordham added. “We’ve been talking leadership, we’ve been talking structure for a while now. Judy sort of picked the ball up and has run with it.”

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