Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens informed employees Wednesday of a significant shake-up that includes outsourcing the legal department, creating a new top-tier district job and replacing the district's human resources director.
Hargens announced the planned organizational shifts to a stunned staff Wednesday afternoon and later sent out a memo laying out details of the plan.She did not return a call for comment Wednesday afternoon; spokeswoman Helene Kramer said Hargens does not plan to speak about her proposal until after she discusses it with the school board next week.The board is expected to discuss Hargens' plan during its meeting Monday evening and is slated to vote on outsourcing the legal services department, as well as on new organizational charts that include a new chief business officer position that will report directly to Hargens.That position, which will be advertised nationally following board approval, will oversee both the finance and human resources departments, Hargens said in the memo, meaning that Chief Financial Officer Cordelia Hardin will report to this new position. Kramer said Hardin's salary will not change and that she will continue to be on the superintendent's cabinet.Board vice-chairwoman Diane Porter said she looks forward to learning more about the chief business officer position. "I know other districts have chief business officers. I'll be looking to see what their structures look like," she said.Meanwhile, current Human Resources Director Mark Rosen was informed that his one-year contract will not be renewed and that his position will be advertised, Kramer confirmed.She said he will stay in the district until his contract expires at the end of June; when asked, she said she was "not aware of any dissatisfaction with his work" but did not say why his contract was not being renewed.Hargens' plan to outsource the district's legal department means that General Counsel Rosemary Miller, who has been with JCPS for three decades and makes more than $175,000 a year, would lose her position Aug. 1. Three other positions in her office, including an assistant general counsel and an administrative secretary, would be eliminated July 1."Reorganizations are an important and necessary part of big organization effectiveness," board chairman David Jones Jr. said when asked for his initial thoughts on the proposal. "I certainly don't think there is any disrespect or diminution of the folks who have done the work" so far.Jones added that the idea of outsourcing creates a "fantastic opportunity" to tap further into the expertise of "Louisville's best legal minds."The memo noted that Hargens has worked in a large district with an outsourced legal department in the past and that requests for proposals will go out to legal firms upon board approval.Hargens talked to at least some of the board members a few days ago to tell them about her proposal, but Wednesday was the first day they'd seen the planned organizational charts.Board member Chris Brady expressed enthusiasm for at least parts of Hargens' plan, which includes combining the management information systems and digital technology departments, something that had been recommended in earlier audits."Some of these changes are long overdue," Brady said, also pointing to a plan to move JCPS' print production facility and supply services department into the operations department.But Brady expressed some reservations about outsourcing the legal department, saying that the general counsel's office has been invaluable to him as a board member when he had questions. He said he wants to continue to be able to pick up the phone and ask a question "without feeling I'm being billed for every quarter hour or for every opinion."Among other planned changes: moving the area superintendents into district headquarters to work more closely with the superintendent, although they will still report to Chief Academic Officer Dewey Hensley, and moving the magnet program coordinator and other staff to the academic services department.