Hairston plans changes for top administrators

Baltimore County school board gives approval to anticipated restructuring

April 25, 2001|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston announced yesterday that he will restructure the system's top administrative positions in an effort to provide a better education for students and save as much as $85 million in five years.

Hairston introduced his much-anticipated reshuffling of the school system's highest-paid employees at a Board of Education meeting. He presented the results of an organizational survey as well.

The survey, executed by MGT of America, a management consulting firm with headquarters in Tallahassee, Fla., gave 200 recommendations for improvements.

"We are a good school system, but we can do better," said Hairston, who has been superintendent for about 10 months. "It is my firm belief that this structure will provide the needed support to our schools."

As expected, the superintendent said he will redefine the responsibilities of five area superintendents because they have too much independence. These administrators oversee schools in distinct geographic regions.

Hairston said he plans to restructure the school system's curriculum offices as well and will hire a second deputy superintendent to oversee finances and facilities.

He said his reorganization, which the school board approved last night, could save $1.5 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1. The superintendent must realize those savings as part of a $643 million education budget proposed last week by County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger.

Hairston said he is "not out to tear everything apart," but added that the MGT survey proves that the school system is flawed.

Hairston said that the system had failed to use federal and state grants wisely, and that the goals of neighborhood schools and top management offices in Towson are often out of sync.

Although some top administrators met with Hairston during the past two days to discuss the reorganization and their new job titles and duties, the superintendent's report caught board members and parents off guard.

Board members received phone book-size copies of the MGT survey hours before the meeting. They discussed findings during a closed-door meeting with Hairston for about two hours and then broke for a quick supper.

But when it came time to accept or reject the superintendent's redesign, all but three of 11 voting board members approved it. Board member John A. Hayden abstained from voting because he said he had not had enough time to read and reflect on the survey results. Board members Sanford V. Teplitzky and H.J. Jack Barnhart were absent.

Parents complained that Hairston's announcement was sudden. It was added to the agenda minutes after the meeting began. No written materials were provided to the public regarding survey results until after Hairston's presentation.

Hairston said that details of his reorganization will be discussed at community meetings. No schedule for the meetings was available.

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