School board approves new chain-of-command chart

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 18, 1999

The Austin Board of Education approved an organization chart Wednesday evening.

Thursday, November 18, 1999

The Austin Board of Education approved an organization chart Wednesday evening.

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It is intended to show who reports to whom.

The lowest rung on the ladder is occupied by Wood School staff.

The highest rung is occupied by "community."

Dr. James A. Hess (Ed.D.), Austin’s superintendent of schools, told the board members, the chart sets forth "responsibilities and the chain of command."

The chart was a personal priority of Hess’, when he was hired as the district’s top administrator this summer past and replaced Dr. J. Douglas Myers, who resigned for retirement purposes.

He described the chart as giving "additional organization and structure" to the district’s personnel and making ‘several changes from the previous policy for reporting."

Board member John Ulland made the motion to approve Hess’ recommendation and board member Lew Aase seconded it, but discussion sparked one board members’ concerns.

Richard Lees, another boad member, questioned the position of Candace F. Raskin, director of educational services, on Hess’s organizational chart.

"It’s really misleading," Lees said, "She’s really a curriculum administrator and here on this chart we have everyone from principals to teachers to custodians reporting to her."

"This chart may be clear to everyone else on this board, but it’s really confusing to me," Lees said.

Lees was also concerned that Bruce Huffer, the district’s supervisor of buildings and grounds, and Al Eckmann, director of management services, were "out of place" on Hess’ chart.

Hess defended the make-up of his chart, saying at one point, it cleared up ‘some dangling participles that occurred when I arrived here to take this job."

More support for the chart came from Amy J. Baskin, chairperson of the school board. She said custodians formerly had to obtain permission from Huffer in order to place salt on ice-covered sidewalks at the district’s individual middle and elementary schools.

"Now, all they need to do is ask the building superintendent," she said.

Lees continued to ask for the board’s support of his interest in how Hess placed Raskin on the chart.

"I don’t care what you call it, the director of educational services should be a curriculum principal," Lees said.

That prompted Baskin to remind Lees that the school board changed the job description after Raskin was given former curriculum principal Neil G. Hanson’s curriculum job, when he retired.

Board member David Simonson inquired if the new chart offers "dual lines of accountability" as a safe-guard and Hess said it did.

"I’m not trying to exclude good communications in the district," Hess said.

On the chart, which has the community at the top followed in descending order by the school board and then the superintendent, Raskin’s director of educational services position puts her in charge of the high school, middle school and elementary school principals, plus all other administration, support staff and every other positions in the individual buildings as well as the technology coordinator, technicians, Cedar River Education District, ESL, Home School, High Potential Title IX, District Wide Testing, Staff Development Title II and curriculum/graduation standards.

Also on the same level as Raskin are the directors of human resources, management services and student support services as well as KSMQ, who individually are responsible for far fewer services and/or personnel.

Board member Carolyn Bogott pointed out the chart offered a "simplified way" of recognizing who was responsible in the district.

The school board members did request that Hess tweak the chart to delineate that staffing matters must go through the directors of human resources and management services.

When the vote was taken, it was a unanimous, 7-0, decision to approve the superintendent’s recommendation.