Gary trims school administration
By Michael GOnzalez Post-Tribune correspondent July 10, 2012 9:00PM
Updated: August 12, 2012 6:36AM
GARY — The Gary School Board on Tuesday formally cut more than a dozen administration positions while welcoming its new superintendent and voting for key spots in the district’s reorganization.
Cheryl Pruitt, a product of Gary public schools, thanked the board in her first meeting, and was greeted with warm comments from the board; afterward she said more positions “probably” will be cut.
The board approved eliminating 14 administrative positions and, so far this year, a reduction in force of almost 170 teachers. Board members are making tough decisions to meet stifling budgetary demands, one member said.
“There will be more cuts. We have to have a balanced budget by Dec. 31, 2012, by law” Barbara Leek said. “We are still larger than we need to be for the students we have.”
Some of the employees in eliminated positions will move into different positions in the district, including some who still hold teaching licenses returning to the classroom.
The board also approved four new positions as part of the district’s reorganization. Pruitt said those positions will be posted Wednesday and remain posted until they are filled. The positions are a chief academic officer, responsible for working with schools to be sure students meet state standards, and an executive director of special education and students services.
The district will also look to hire an executive director of innovation and improvement and an executive director of human resources, who will also oversee employee relations and compliance with Equal Opportunity Commission standards.
Pruitt said she will begin interviewing for a chief financial officer later this week.
The board approved hiring 13 people to fill 20 coaching positions, but the district needs to look at all of its sports offerings to determine if there is enough participation to justify keeping those options, athletic director Earl Smith said.
“We did hire for some sports last year where we didn’t have the numbers” of students participating, he said.
Smith’s comments came shortly after board member Ken Stalling called on the district to take a closer look at participation levels in the different sports.
Smith also said he should be able to make a recommendation on the West Side Leadership Academy’s boys basketball head coach by next week. That coaching position is expected to go before the board for consideration in two weeks.
In other business, the board approved spending $12,192 to upgrade the telephone system at Lew Wallace STEM Academy. Pruitt said there was a lower bid, but she favored A-1 Teletronics to provide the equipment and Live Wire to install the system and train workers to use it since they are local companies and to comply with district policies regarding using local vendors.
The board also approved a $5,000 contract for Marcus Heffner to serve as West Side’s band director and to assist the West Side Theater Guild. Asia Dickens was also hired as a choreographer for the theater guild for $3,500.