IWCS eliminates executive director positions

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Isle of Wight County Schools will eliminate all executive director positions starting next school year.

The county’s School Board approved the measure, and a revised administrative pay scale, in a 4-0 Dec. 9 vote after Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton presented a proposal for streamlining the school system’s central office.

“We’re too small to have all these executive directors,” Thornton said.

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The school system of just over 5,600 students currently has four executive director positions: one for leadership, one for human resources, one for budget and finance, and one for support services and operations.

Susan Goetz, who currently holds the executive director of leadership position, has nine principals reporting directly to her.

“That’s too much on any one individual,” Thornton said.

Under Thornton’s proposed hierarchy, the human resources and support services positions — held by Cheryl Elliott and Christopher Coleman, respectively — would become directors and report to a newly-created assistant superintendent of administration, finance and operations position. The executive director of budget and finance position — currently held by Steven Kepnes — would be re-titled chief financial officer, and would also report to the new assistant superintendent.

Goetz’s role, on the other hand, would become two separate positions: a director of elementary education, and a director of secondary and career and technical education. Both positions would report to a deputy superintendent of instruction. The deputy superintendent position would be second in line to Thornton in the school system’s chain of leadership and carry a minimum salary of $135,000. The assistant superintendent position would be third in line and carry a minimum salary of $125,000.

All current directors would report to either the deputy or assistant superintendent, with the exception of Lynn Briggs, the school system’s director of community and media relations, who would report directly to Thornton.

When presenting his plan, Thornton said he had knowledge of the impending departure of one or more of the school system’s executive directors at the end of the current school year, and recommended that the remaining executive directors be grandfathered at their current salaries when they become directors.

Some may even see raises, despite the reduction in title, according to the revised administrative pay scale the School Board approved.

Since 2018, executive director positions have carried a minimum salary of $105,000. Per the new pay scale, the minimum salary for directors will rise to $110,000, up from the $95,000 minimum the School Board implemented in 2018.

Coordinator positions will also see a boost in pay, rising from the $75,000 minimum salary approved in 2018 to a new minimum of $78,750. The minimum salary for assistant directors, which was set at $69,000 in 2018, will remain unchanged.

Thornton is also proposing a minimum 5% raise for teachers starting next school year, in accordance with the 10% raise Gov. Ralph Northam has proposed for Virginia’s biennial 2022-2024 budget. Currently, IWCS teacher pay scale ranges from $44,945 to $75,603, with higher salaries available to teachers with educational credentials beyond a bachelor’s degree or those who sign 11-month or 12-month contracts.

Thornton presented the proposed teacher raises as part of his briefing to the School Board on the governor’s proposed budget. As such, the School Board took no vote on the raises, but will likely revisit the matter during budget talks come 2022.

Newport District School Board member Renee Dial was the abstaining vote on the proposed administrative pay scale and central office changes.