The Baltimore County Board of Education is poised to create a new management position and hire a senior educator to fill it at a meeting tonight.
School board members expect the new chief of staff to help free Superintendent Joe A. Hairston and Deputy Superintendent Christine M. Johns for pressing curriculum and performance issues.
"I would suspect that in a system the size of Baltimore County there are so many things going on at the same time that one really needs to have someone to track everything," said board member and Baltimore City school principal James R. Sasiadek.
School officials declined to release the name of the person who will be presented for approval by the board tonight. The job carries a salary of $100,000 to $110,000 a year.
The chief of staff position was suggested in a report presented to Hairston by his transition team - a group of educators who reviewed the school system before Hairston started work July 1.
School board members compared job duties to that of an executive aide, someone who works behind the scenes to oversee projects and meet with key staff members.
Although Hairston presented the idea to create the position to board members two weeks ago, some questions remain.
Board member John A. Hayden worries that the position may create a "bottleneck" that could slow the flow of information between staff and the superintendent. Hayden said he wants reassurances from Hairston that won't happen.
Hayden compared the chief of staff position to the job formerly held by Michael H. Davis, a lawyer who served as County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger's top political adviser and chief lieutenant until he quit in July to manage Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes' re-election bid.
Sasiadek said it's time the school system created such a position, especially given the large student population - about 107,000 - and nearly $600 million budget, a figure that includes state and federal contributions.
"I've worked with several people who were in that position in [the Baltimore City school system], and they were extremely helpful," said Sasiadek, who is principal of Medfield Heights Elementary School in Hampden.
"They could manage meetings and make sure things get done, and they could make sure the numbers are accurate," he said. "The superintendent doesn't have time to do all that and I don't think we should pay a superintendent to do all that, but we want to make sure it gets done."