A proposed restructuring of the Lafayette Parish School System’s central office could lead to the elimination of some jobs and save about $300,000, incoming Superintendent Don Aguillard said Thursday.
As part of a reorganization, two new positions also will be created: chief academic officer and chief administrative officer. These will be the top two school system leaders under the superintendent, replacing the current assistant superintendent position and creating a separate position — the chief administrative officer — to handle noninstructional management within the school system.
The School Board last week approved those jobs.
“The plan now in place makes good sense, given the size of Lafayette Parish. The chief academic officer will focus on raising test scores and student achievement, while the other chief position will take care of the management side,” Aguillard said.
The restructure plan was set in motion prior to Aguillard’s selection as superintendent, though he said he gave input on how to tweak the job descriptions for both new positions. Aguillard declined to offer details about the eliminated positions until those plans are made public with the release of the board’s May 20 meeting agenda.
“I’ll present to them a reorganization chart that will produce efficiencies while reducing the chain of command,” he said.
He added that the proposed changes are aligned with his “vision to reduce the chain of command and expenses.” While he wouldn’t comment on the number of positions that could be eliminated, he said the projected savings total about $320,000.
Human Resources Director Bruce Leininger said employees whose jobs could be eliminated under the reorganization plan would be notified of the changes and given an opportunity to apply for open positions in the district.
Leininger, who also wouldn’t specify which jobs would be eliminated, said several school administrative jobs are expected to open with pending retirements and that most of the employees whose jobs are targeted also qualify for both or at least one of the new chief positions.
The application period for the two new chief positions closes May 25.
It’s not unusual for reorganizations following the hiring of a new superintendent.
In 2012, when former superintendent Pat Cooper started the job, he eliminated two similar positions — deputy superintendent of instruction and a deputy superintendent who oversaw school system operations unrelated to instruction.
Instead, Cooper created an assistant superintendent position specific to academics and a special assistant to the superintendent position to advise him on facilities, maintenance, grounds and transportation. Ultimately, Cooper’s decisions related to the special assistant job is one of the factors that led to the then-board’s 7-2 decision to terminate him in November 2014. That special assistant job was not funded in the 2014-15 budget.
During his short tenure as interim superintendent, Burnell LeJeune created an interim chief operations officer job, now held by Kyle Bordelon in addition to his facilities and planning director duties.
LeJeune said Thursday that the chief officer jobs will streamline the top tier of the school system’s leadership team and improve effectiveness.
“My intention was effectiveness so that one person could concentrate on the instructional or academic components of the school system working with curriculum, testing and professional development while the other person would be dedicated to support services that support the schools, such as transportation, child welfare and attendance, and all those things that deal with the administration or management of the school system,” LeJeune said.
He added that his plan was to further streamline departments with the elimination of positions, but those decisions will be up to Aguillard.
“I think it’s important for a new superintendent to have individuals that they select to work side by side with them,” LeJeune said. “This will give an opportunity for anybody within the organization or outside the organization to apply. I think Dr. Aguillard’s going to have some good applicants.”
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.