Deputy superintendent position eliminated

Columbia School District’s decade of growth prompted staff cut
Tuesday, February 20, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:43 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jacque Cowherd said he wasn’t surprised by the decision to eliminate his job as deputy superintendent of the Columbia Public School District.

“I was aware the announcement was coming,” Cowherd said, noting that he and superintendent Phyllis Chase “had had that conversation.”

Chase said the district’s growth over the past decade prompted her to collaborate with administration staff to phase out the position of deputy superintendent and create a new chief operations officer position, which will entail additional responsibilities.

“We haven’t looked much into changing responsibilities to fit the (district’s) growth,” Chase said. “Now we’re doing that.”

Chase said further consolidation at the district’s administration level is also a possibility.

What does this restructuring mean for the district?

“We will be better able to serve the community,” Chase said. “We will be doing the work effectively position-wise as well as cost-wise.”

Because the district is creating a new position, it must advertise the job opening. Chase said the new position has been advertised for about a week. The job posting on the district’s Web site lists preferred candidates as those with doctoral degrees and a Missouri superintendent’s certificate.

The chief operations officer position is different from the deputy superintendent post Cowherd now holds, Chase said.

“We’re eliminating the title, deleting responsibilities and adding responsibilities,” she said.

The new job, Chase explained, will focus on long-range facilities

planning and overseeing instructional and informational technology, in addition to some of the responsibilities now fulfilled by the deputy superintendent.

The district’s Web site also includes oversight of budgets, nutrition services and security measures as part of the job.

Cowherd referred all questions about the differences between the new position and his current job to Chase, but he said he is considering applying. He has been Columbia’s deputy superintendent since 2001, and before that, he was the chief operations officer for the Missouri School Boards’ Association.

Chase said the retirement of Cheryl Cozette, assistant superintendent

of curriculum and instruction, was a factor in the decision to reorganize the district.

“Since Dr. Cozette retired, we began looking at reorganizing,” Chase said. “(This gave the district) the opportunity to look at the strengths and weaknesses.”

Any decision to restructure the district’s administrative structure does not have to be approved by the Columbia Board of Education.

“The board doesn’t weigh in on administration employment decisions,” Chase said.

She said Cowherd’s job as deputy superintendent will end June 30, and the new chief operations officer will begin July 1.

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