Three stipend positions created for principals to advise school staffing models

Published 12:19 pm Thursday, November 16, 2017

District officials say there will be no reduction in force as new plans come into place 

As 2017 is winding down, the Danville Board of Education is making plans to name the leaders of the Mary G. Hogsett Primary School and the Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School.

“It’s an exciting time,” said Danville Schools Superintendent Keith Look.

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Look told board members on Monday that they had planned to name the principals and begin naming staff before December, but the Kentucky Department of Education views them as two new schools meaning none of the staff can be named until February 1, 2018, per KRS 160.380.

“Selfishly, we want these folks on staff as quickly as possible because the next phase really demands a little intensity,” Look said.

He’s enlisted the help of an advisory group consisting of people like retired Human Resources Director Greg Schulz and Elementary Education Director Judy Spellacy, and with that group has met with people like Food Services Director Patty Taylor and Family Resource Director Anna Houston, to make decisions about the opening and running of the two schools. 

“We’re still plugging away at those issues and, honestly, we’re pretty well on track. This is the next step of the phase,” he said.

The district can name the principals of the schools one of two ways, Look said. 

• Option one: create two new principal positions, post the vacancies, pull the person out of their current position and schedule them to start Feb. 1. That would likely require interim principals to be selected in their place and could cost the district an estimated $100,000 adjustment.

• Option two: create three extra duty stipends, to be assigned to the current elementary principals. It would be services rendered, beyond their regular duties, toward the new school openings. They would be part of the advisory group. The official new principal positions would be posted in December, named on Feb. 1 and officially start on July 1. It would cost the district about $1,500, or $500 per position.

The board approved the plan to create and fund the three stipend positions through the end of the school year, but voted to raise the amounts to $1,000 each.

Board member Steven Becker called the work to be done “a lot,” and suggested the increase.

Those jobs are a Hogsett Designer and a Toliver Designer, which “support the development of a school staffing model,” and other things necessary to prepare the school, staff and family for the August opening; and a Logistics Designer, which looks at the issues that “go across the schools,” such as coordinating start and end time, transportation, moving student records and more.

“Essentially, what we would be doing is creating three stipends, putting those folks in place — they still have their current roles — and they would be taking on some of these responsibilities,” Look said.

Board Chair Paige Matthews said, “it’s a lot to take on” both jobs, but that the price difference was immense.

Schulz also spoke about the timeline, on behalf of the advisory committee.

“We would like to have a skeleton model of staffing for both schools to present to the board,” he said.

In December they would like to begin finalizing the leadership of the staffing, so any additional positions could be posted — none of those can be put in place until Feb. 1.

“It’s the people who make the decisions now in the schools — in some schools, that’s the principal and the assistant principal, in some that’s the principal and counselor,” he said, calling it a “first priority.”

In January, Schulz said, they would like to begin interviewing, and continue “flushing out” the staffing. That’s where the stipends for the three principals will begin seeing use, as their input will be necessary to make those decisions, he said.

They would like to notify all staff of assignments by the end of February.

He said they are trying to keep the plan in March and April similar to what the schools would see if they weren’t restructuring.

“Instead of just telling you ’50 positions,’ you as a board need to know what they would be,” he said, referring to a prospective staffing chart distributed by Look.

Schulz said they wanted to make sure that the board could see the funding sources and staffing numbers together by the time they bring the plan back. There won’t be site-based decision-making councils in place, so district staff and the board will have to work together to make decisions that the school councils would normally make, he said.

“There will be no reduction in force,” Schulz said, something that has been repeated by Look throughout the process.

Look said the SBDM will be in place by Jan. 1, 2019, so policies will have to be set before then by the board and staff.

“We’ve got three schools that are pretty similar. From the SBDM standpoint, there’s not going to be a radical, shift in policy,” Look said.

Schulz said they will also have to look at what the specific needs of the students in the preschool through first grade building and the second through fifth grade building will be, compared to the kindergarten through fifth grade schools that currently exist.

“A lot of this is need-based or population based, so it may change a little bit,” Schulz said. “We’ve got to find the best fit for people that we still owe a position to.”