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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Jefferson County Board of Education approved a slate of new central office positions in Jefferson County Public Schools on Tuesday, adding four new senior-level positions to the district’s staff while eliminating several others based on recommendations by the Council of the Great City Schools.

Tuesday’s action is the first in what could be a series of staffing changes at JCPS after the council’s review found structural incoherence in some areas of the district’s organization.

The restructure is expected to save the district $24,874 in personnel costs. A previous version of the plan anticipated $14,327 in savings.

Most of those anticipated savings will come from hiring a general counsel for the district for expenses totaling $225,000 rather than outsourcing legal work at an average yearly clip of $420,983.

The staffing changes – which include new positions such as chief of staff, chief of schools and chief of human resources; cutting others like the chief business officer and ombudsman; putting assistant superintendents and evaluation and transition coordinators into new roles; and raising pay for the district’s chief equity officer and chief communications and community relations officer – will increase personnel costs by $171,109 before factoring in legal service savings.

JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said he plans to bring more recommended personnel changes to the school board for its approval in April and May. Other changes that likely will be suggested include an internal auditor and an office in charge of turnaround schools and those nearing that status.

Pollio says other large school districts like Miami, Fla., have seen success with similar internal support for low-performing schools.

“We want to bring to you some ideas in April about how we can better support our what were called priority schools,” he said.

Pollio told WDRB News he hopes to have the new positions filled by July 1 ahead of the 2018-19 school year.  JCPS staff is still evaluating the Council of the Great City Schools’ recommendations ahead of further proposed staffing changes, he said.

Overhauling the district’s organizational structure “gets us where we need to go,” and the next 100 days will be “critical in the future success of our district,” he said.

“We’re just not in a position where we can wait, and so taking bold steps right off the bat, we will be advertising for these positions nationally tomorrow morning and hopefully hiring as quickly as we possibly can top-notch, quality candidates,” Pollio said. “… This and whatever we will bring in the future is going to just make us a better district, and I just look forward to seeing what happens with it.”

Hiring a new general counsel will be a big shift for JCPS. Both Pollio and school board member Chris Brady, who represents District 7, said that job will streamline the process of getting legal questions answered quickly.

Questions that once went to assistant superintendents or other administrators can be fielded by an in-house general counsel once that position is filled, Brady said.

“We have custody issues with parents and their kids, and I just felt that that put our organization at risk, having people who did not have a legal in the position of having to determine whether or not legal counsel should be contacted,” he said. “… That was one of several issues I had with outsourcing legal counsel.”

Brady said he also expects the reorganization will create a more cohesive central office at JCPS.

“Large organizations like this have to take a look at the best way to efficient, especially when we’re dealing with the taxpayers’ money,” he said.

A copy of the reorganization and its expected costs can be viewed here:

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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