By Nicole Achs Freeling
- Interviews to Begin for New Superintendent
- Committee Considers New Administrative Positions
- Board Votes on Cuts to Paraprofessionals
Interviews to Begin for New Superintendent
The board is on schedule with its "aggressive timeline" to hire a new superintendent, Commissioner Norman Yee said on Thursday evening at a meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Personnel. So far, the search firm has about 15 to 20 applications, but search leaders said they expected some of the best candidates to apply toward the end of the search to protect against leaks and rumors. The board expects to have all the applications in and begin conducting interviews by the second week of May.
The board will meet as a Committee of the Whole on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. to discuss how its role should intersect with that of the superintendent. "We'll be hearing for the first time then about what we have" in terms of applications, Yee said. "But we won't know about a lot of these folks until the last minute."
Committee Considers New Administrative Positions
The committee discussed three new administrative positions it is seeking to fill, one to manage funding and programs associated with Proposition H, the Public Education Enrichment Fund; one to coordinate the district's newly adopted Small Schools by Design Initiative; and one to conduct internal financial audits.
Yee said he expected all the positions to funded through either outside or dedicated funds within the district, rather than unrestricted funds, where the district is facing the most budgetary pressure.
Board members considered the value of hiring an internal auditor. Discussion has come up regularly over the years that the district might save money by having someone investigate spending. At the same time, district financial advisor Joe Graziola said, it should be someone who could create real operating efficiencies. "Just looking to see where we can save money, we do every day," he said.
Board members directed staff to write a job description for the internal auditor position so they would know more specifically what it encompassed. Staff has begun recruiting for the Prop. H coordinator position, although the Prop. H budget has yet to be approved by the Board of Supervisors. One of the district's senior staff members will assume the post of small schools coordinator, according to staff member Orla O'Keefe.
Board Votes on Cuts to Paraprofessionals
Later, the board reconvened to vote on whether to lay off 16 paraprofessionals. The cuts were narrowly approved, after members wrestling with issues of how much the move would save the district and whether there were other options. Commissioners Yee, Jill Wynns, Hydra Mendoza and Jane Kim voted for the cuts; Commissioners Mark Sanchez, Kim-Shree Maufus and Eric Mar voted against them.
"The elephant in the room is that were in negotiation with the union and we want to do everything possible to show we're negotiating in good faith," Sanchez said.
One of the biggest issue was concern over the seniority of the individuals involved. One has 25 years' experience with the district, and many others have long histories of service as well. District staff said that, because many of these positions have not been filled in a long time, there are no less senior staff members to lay off. But Yee observed, "When you've been in the district 25 years, it doesn't make any sense you can't do anything else within the district."
There was also concern about the accuracy of the $680,000 estimate that staff said the layoffs would save the district. "That seems like a large overestimation given the salary numbers we're seeing," Mar said. Staff, for its part, defended the numbers, saying the district has worked from every angle to reduce the layoffs to the lowest number possible. "I can't stress the enough: we do not like taking this before the board, and we take this very seriously," O'Keefe said. "Nobody is putting their thumb on the scale."
The affected employees will be encouraged to apply for open positions within the district, mainly in special education and child development. Last year, the district was able to re-employ 19 of the 38 employees it laid off.