School system rudderless but not oversized, says citizens group

September 03, 1992|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

The Board of Education is not a "bloated bureaucracy," but it could use some direction, according to a report issued yesterday by a citizens advisory committee.

"The committee did not find the administrative staffing level to be oversized when compared with other jurisdictions," said Florence Beck Kurdle, chairwoman of the Committee on School System Management and Administration.

She added, however, that "downsizing has occurred through attrition and lack of rehiring for vacant positions. This has resulted in a less than efficient allocation of personnel."

The committee, formed at the request of the school board last January, spent nine months evaluating the board after politicians and parents suggested it was overstaffed, particularly at the administrative level.

Mrs. Kurdle, former head of the county's Office of Planning and Zoning, and three of the committee's six members presented their findings and recommendations to the board yesterday.

Mrs. Kurdle said the committee did not conclude that there was no fat to be found in the area of administration.

Rather, she said, the committee thought the administration was fat in some areas and lean in others.

"I think you should look hard and see what the resources are you need to do the job," she said.

First, Mrs. Kurdle said, the board needs to prepare a strategic plan to describe the operations, program, services and experiences that the schools need to provide.

"We believe this is a good school system," Mrs. Kurdle said. "With some leadership and direction, we can be a great system. But we need a road map. When we talked to the people in the schools, there was an overwhelming feeling that there was no sense of direction. There clearly is a low morale thing."

The committee also recommended the board do more in the area of staff development.

"The educational system has more demands for change now than ever before, and current employees must be equipped to respond," Ms. Kurdle said.

The board has no money in its budget for staff development. Last year, staff development constituted only 0.1 percent of the total budget.

"It sounds to me like we're being penny-wise and pound-foolish," board member Thomas Twombly said.

The committee also suggested the board look at consolidating some assistant superintendents' positions as well as some other areas in administration.

The committee recommended improving relations with county government.

"It is recognized that there are some natural tensions in the relationship which can work to improve efficiency, but these have tended in recent years to become more severe and therefore work against efficiency," Mrs. Kurdle said.

Copies of the report will be given to the county executive and members of the County Council and placed in libraries and each school.

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