To trim expenses, the Board of Education is downsizing its central office.
Three administrative postions, including the assistant superintendent for business, are being axed at the end of June in a bid to save more than $250,000 annually, according to Superintendent Philip Streifer.
The goal is “putting resources into the classrooms where they’re really needed,” Streifer said.
The Board of Education requested nearly $104 million for the coming year fiscal year, about $3.7 million more than it got this year. Its members said they needed that much for a “go forward” spending plan that simply maintained the status quo.
But the Board of Finance plans tonight to approve a city budget that includes a $1.9 million increase for the schools, leaving educators with at least a $1.5 million gap to close through greater efficiency or trimmed programs.
Streifer said the administrative shakeup, in which he’ll take on many of the duties of the business manager role, is one key to resolving the fiscal problem without hurting students.
In addition to eliminating the assistant superintendent for business post, which is currently filled on a temporary basis by a retiree, the schools intend to trim an administrator in the office of teaching and learning ad another in the special education supervisor’s office.
City Comptroller Glenn Klocko said he’s never seen a school superintendent take on the duties of a district’s business manager as well.
He said Streifer faces “a monumental task,” Klocko said.
Streifer said he’s been itching to learn more about the exact details of how the money flows within the school budget so the change will give him the chance to delve into details that others traditionally have overseen.
“I’m pretty confident it will run pretty well,” Streifer said, though he admitted “I don’t know what I don’t know.”
One aspect of the business manager’s job that Streifer won’t handle is supervising transportation. That will fall instead to Greg Boulanger, who has been in charge of food services. He’ll do both after July 1.
Retired business manager William Smyth, who stepped down last summer and returned temporarily this spring after his successor unexpectedly resigned, will be kept on as a consultant so that Streifer can call for help whenever he needs it.
Streifer said the cost-cutting measures eyed by education leaders should ensure that no layoffs are needed among teachers and those in the classroom. He said he wants to keep the impact of budget woes away from students as much as possible.
The cuts in administrative slots won’t lead to layoffs either because of retirements and people leaving the district for other jobs, including Jennings Principal Gail Gilmore, who is taking a job as assistant superintendent in Wolcott.
Streifer said the district’s administrators generally took a positive view of the changes, which were talked about with the union and developed over four or five months.
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