Summit School District considers reallocating central office funds, but not everyone is happy

The Summit School District Administration Building in Frisco is pictured on Nov. 12, 2020.
Liz Copan/For the Summit Daily News

A Summit School District plan to make up for the loss of a chief operating officer is controversial among some staff members.

Interim Superintendent Roy Crawford presented the district’s proposed organizational chart for the 2022-23 school year during a school board meeting on Thursday, April 14. Last year, Crawford decided not to refill the chief operating officer position after failing to receive a strong list of qualified candidates.

The duties of the position, which include managing the district’s safety and security, information technology, health coordination, transportation and facilities, were given to the district’s chief financial officer and chief human resources officer.

The situation isn’t sustainable for the employees, who took on the added responsibilities without an increase in pay, Crawford said at the meeting.

“They had a full-time job that we’ve added to,” he said. “… For me, the need for this was no surprise and I would hope for the board it was no surprise.”

To help ease some of the burden on those positions, Crawford proposed reallocating the funds to create a new financial analyst position. The financial analyst would take on some of the chief financial officer duties and would cost $80,000 for salary and benefits.

If the district chose not to do that, then the $180,000 that would have gone to a chief operating officer would remain in the central staff budget. Crawford said he is in favor of the financial analyst position because it saves the district $100,000.

Even though the financial analyst option saves money, some district staff members felt adding any position to the central office takes needed funds away from the classrooms. Staff members spoke against the plan during the public comment section of the meeting, which took place before Crawford’s presentation.

“I find it shocking that the central office staff has considered prioritizing precious (full time employees) in any other place than our school buildings in a year when teachers, counselors, administrators, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria staff and maintenance staff have carried the enormous weight of this pandemic,” said Liz Waddick, president of the Summit County Education Association and a teacher at Summit High School.

Crawford said he felt that people misunderstood the nature of the funding. The interim superintendent clarified that the budget for the central office doesn’t change because the $180,000 for the chief operating officer were reallocated to the central office budget, not to the general fund.

“When I hear comments that we’re adding to the central office, it’s baloney,” he said. “(It’s the) same number of positions with $100,000 less.”

The issue of a chief operating officer is ultimately up to the superintendent, not the school board, to solve. However, the board members gave Crawford feedback on what they’d like to see happen.

Ultimately, the board members felt it would be best to keep the organizational chart as it is now until the Superintendent-elect Anthony Byrd starts his role on July 1. That may mean the $180,000 budgeted for the chief operating officer will remain in the central office budget until a budget amendment is made.

“If we are having a new superintendent coming, I would want that person’s perspective,” board member Johanna Kugler said. “I would want them to have ownership of their leadership team because it will be their leadership team.”

The board will discuss the issue again when it starts its budgeting process in the next few months.

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