LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Jefferson County Board of Education approved a major reorganization of the district’s central office on a 5-2 vote Tuesday, but a number of board members expressed frustration at the manner in which affected employees were notified of possible job changes.
The reorganization, which passed with all but board chairwoman Diane Porter and board member Corrie Shull voting in favor, was scaled back on Tuesday.
Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio said proposed changes to school psychologists, who were slated to lose five work days and have their pay grades reduced a level, and social workers and assistant directors of pupil personnel, whose jobs were set to be eliminated entirely, have been shelved so the district can further evaluate those positions.
In all, the reorganization will mean the elimination of 91 jobs, 75 of them vacant, and the reclassification of 45 positions to roles with fewer work hours or lower pay grades, according to Jimmy Adams, the district’s human resources chief. The original proposal called for the elimination of 229 jobs, including the 75 vacancies.
Those who have been reclassified will be held harmless for a year, and classified personnel impacted by the plan will be overstaffed and placed into similar positions elsewhere in JCPS with no wage losses, district officials have said.
“I know this is tough, but we’re going to examine all of the dollars that we have and the programs that we have for impact and make sure we’re doing the right thing for our students and our schools,” Pollio said during Tuesday’s meeting.
While JCPS officials expected the original proposal to save the district nearly $1.4 million per year, the effects of Tuesday’s vote weren’t entirely clear. Pollio, who was unavailable for comment after the meeting, told board members that such information would be available for them on Wednesday.
JCPS Communications Director Renee Murphy told WDRB News Wednesday that the reorganization is expected to save the district about $824,000 per year.
Some board members shared their misgivings with how staffers affected by the proposed changes were notified of how the reorganization might affect their jobs in recent weeks.
“I want to say to you that we have made people cry,” Porter said. “We have made people anxious, and don’t say it’s not a big deal because it absolutely is because it could be us.”
“We must do better for those that we employ, for those that we want to trust to work with our students,” she added. “… There has to be a better process to communicate what is going on.”
Shull voiced similar misgivings.
“I fear that over the last two weeks that we have contributed negatively to the climate of our district in the way that much of this information has been rolled out,” he said.
Board member James Craig, who complimented the changes that were made to the plan, also shared his frustration that the board is being asked to vote on the reorganization changes a day before the deadline for JCPS to give employees notice about their jobs for the next school year.
“That’s not something that I would hope to see again in the future,” Craig said. “We need to be able to provide meaningful board input into these decisions, and the last 10 days or so of going back and forth with texts and conversations is not the best way to do it.”
“Whatever is the best way to do it, this is not the best way to do it,” he said.
Pollio agreed and said district officials learned from the experience of coming right against the May 15 deadline.
“We’ll work to, if we were to do this again, to make changes to that,” Pollio said.
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