Cobb Schools Leadership Overhauled

New superintendent Michael Hinojosa said streamlining top administrative personnel will save money and fit his management style.

The Cobb County Board of Education has given its approval to Superintendent Michael Hinojosa’s reorganization of top personnel in the .

The 6-0 vote on Wednesday includes the promotion of Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Hungerford’s to the new position of chief of staff and a reduction in the number of department divisions from approximately eight to five.

Hinojosa said the changes would save nearly $80,000 in the current budget by eliminating three positions costing $230,000—executive to the superintendent, associate superintendent for operational support and executive secretary for operational support.

“I know my style as a superintendent, and for me to be effective, I need to be out of the office,” Hinojosa told the board, which was informed about the reorganization during an executive session. “I need to be out in the schools. I need to be out in the community. … This structure that I am recommending will allow that to happen.”

Hungerford now oversees the district’s communications, policy development and legislative liaison and the Cobb Education Foundation. The district will hire a policy development director to work under her.

After earning $109,941.53 during fiscal 2010, according to OpenGeorgia.gov, Hungerford’s annual salary will increase to $125,000, a district release reported.

Hinojosa described chief of staff as a “critical” position.

Hinojosa noted that the Atlanta, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett school systems employ chiefs of staff.

Interim Deputy Superintendent Alice Stouder loses the “interim” and becomes the deputy superintendent of leadership and learning. She oversees human capital (formerly known as human resources), support services and evaluation systems, employment, professional standards and ethics, the six area superintendents, principals, student support, alternative education, athletics, and facility use.

“That is the line,” Hinojosa said of Stouder. “That’s where all the accountability happens on all of the campuses.”

Her salary, which was $114,156.52 in fiscal 2010, rises to $138,000.

Robert Benson, the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, will become an area superintendent, but Benson told Patch he wasn’t sure which area. Hinojosa noted that Benson previously was the principal at .

Chris Ragsdale, the chief technology officer, becomes the deputy superintendent of operational support, which includes technology. He also oversees the SPLOST program, construction, program management and accountability, planning, project services, transportation, maintenance, public safety, information systems, network operations, instructional technology, program management, field services, and infrastructure. He gets a raise from $126,903.57 in fiscal 2010 to $135,000.

Chief Financial Officer Mike Addison adds responsibility for food and nutrition to procurement, disbursement, budget and accounting services.

Chief Accountability and Research Officer Judi Jones becomes the chief academic officer. She oversees curriculum, instruction and assessment, professional learning, instructional administration, special student services, legal and policy issues, special education, HAVEN Academy, and psychological services.

Although some employees are seeing slight salary cuts, overall the reorganization results in raises totaling $150,000. But Hinojosa said Cobb County is “nowhere near the ballpark with our comparison districts.”

The salaries for deputies and chiefs in the Atlanta, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Fulton school systems, he said, average $150,000 and top out at $184,000.

“I have a lot of experience in doing this in a lot of districts,” said Hinojosa, who started in July after spending 15 of his 32 work years as a superintendent. “Because of vacancies, they assigned duties to other departments, and this probably assigns them where they should’ve been or where they were a long time ago.”

Board member Tim Stultz of Smyrna’s Post 2 didn’t attend the afternoon session of the all-day meeting, which is why only six members voted on the reorganization.



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