Administration changes OK’d by Wood BOE

PARKERSBURG – A planned shakeup of administrative positions for Wood County Schools led to a lot of questions and a split vote from the Wood County Board of Education.

Incoming Superintendent John Flint, who officially begins July 1, last month pitched a reorganization of the district’s central office and on Monday brought a tweaked version to the school board for approval. The board voted 3-2 to approve the plan, with board members Lawrence Hasbargen and Tad Wilson voting against.

The board also voted 3-2, with member Wilson and board President Tim Yeater against, on creation of a deputy superintendent position, which is a centerpiece of the restructuring plan.

On Monday, Flint clarified the deputy superintendent would not be a new position, but rather a reworked assistant superintendent position.

“We don’t want to send the message out that we are creating a high-paying position. We’re not,” Flint said. “It is a retool of (the assistant superintendent of support services) position. It’s retooled to be more academic oriented.”

As part of the plan the district would not immediately fill a director position, which would oversee the human resources department. Flint said instead the deputy superintendent would, in addition to the position’s regular responsibilities, oversee human resources.

“We won’t add positions unless we consolidate or replace a position somewhere else,” Flint said.

Both board members John Marlow and Jim Fox voiced support for the plan, saying board members had been asking for a reorganization of the district office for years.

Yeater pointed out the description of the deputy superintendent position did not include overseeing the human resources department. He also said adding in those responsibilities indefinitely could lead to legal issues.

“What keeps you from just making them the deputy superintendent and not put anybody in that position ever?” Yeater said. “I’m concerned about the legal part of (adding responsibilities to the position). Do we have the latitude to do that?”

Flint said anyone interviewing for the position would be told their responsibilities would include temporarily overseeing human resources.

“Those that apply will be very well aware they have to pay particular attention to HR,” he said. Flint also said those responsibilities would eventually require a separate director because it “is a very, very difficult job. You have to have a job description pertinent to that job description.”

Wilson voiced several concerns, saying he believed the changes put too much pressure on a handful of administrators, including the deputy superintendent and the director of curriculum.

Bob Harris, the current assistant superintendent of school services, voiced concerns the district’s human resources department was understaffed and would soon lose more positions. Harris is set to retire at the end of this month, and said another position created for the department has not been filled and may not be filled under the newly revamped system.

Flint disagreed, saying there would be no loss in leadership for the human resources department. Flint also said Harris’ view of the revamp missed the purpose of the changes.

“Reconstruction is about students,” Flint said. “The reconstruction plan is geared to increase academic achievement in Wood County Schools.”

Flint said the changes are the first part of a three-phase effort and officials will continue to monitor and tweak those changes in the months to come.