The Montgomery County school system has begun notifying 224 central office employees, ranging from clerical workers to administrators, that their jobs will be changed or abolished under a proposed administrative reorganization.
"In a vast majority of situations, they're being assured that there is a possibility of getting another (school system) job," said school spokesman Kenneth Muir. "But there's always the possibility that for some few people jobs won't exist."
The personnel changes, which became apparent about three weeks ago, are the results of Superintendent Charles M. Bernardo's plan to reorganize the school system administration. Bernardo wants to move skilled staff and administrators from the Rockville central offices to the five area offices and sometimes to individual schools. The purpose is to supply teachers and students with more direct services and the school system with more specific information.
Although the school board is not scheduled to approve or reject the reorganization plan until the Jan. 10 meeting, Bernardo's proposed school budget for next year will reflect the changes in personnel. The budget proposals are to become public Dec. 19.
"It's better to find out directly and authoritatively as opposed to through the budget," Muir said, explaining why the staff has been called in one by one to the personnel office.
Technically, Bernardo is abolishing 71 top and middle level jobs and creating 51 new positions. But many people, including secretaries and support personnel, will be shifted as a result of the changes. Staff members may find they are doing the same jobs but reporting to different people in new places. Some of those whose jobs are abolished will have to compete for newly created school system jobs - both against other school staff and sometimes against outside applicants.
"It's hardly a mindless shuffle," said Bernardo, who expects to save $450,000 from the position cuts. The money will go toward the $2 million to $3 million he wants next year for hiring 109 more teachers.
More importantly, he said, the changes are crucial for implementing his new educational organization. Not only will it bring the curriculum planners, the teacher specialists, the electronic media equipment specialists to the schools, it will also "eliminate excessive bureaucratic layers between the superintendent and the schools." Said Bernardo, "The personnel impact is modest. The educational impact is sizable."
"People weren't very happy," said Edward Andrews, the associate superientendent for personnel, whose job is being abolished. Andrews declined to say what plans Bernardo had mentioned for him, but he said he would be staying in the school system. "A couple of them sat here and had tears running down their cheeks," Andrews said of some of the middle-level administrators he has had to inform of they job news. "Many are concerned, they don't know where they're going to be. Their tolerance for anxiety is only so much."
Wherever they go, they will go with at least the same salary they currently make, said Bernardo. For the four or five Bernardo estimates may be crunched by the new reorganization, "maximum efforts" will be made to find jobs somewhere in the school system. "It may not be the job you want," said Bernardo of his reorganized personnel, "but it's a job and at your current salary level."