PORTLAND – Superintendent Jim Morse has scaled back plans to reorganize the top administration of the city’s public schools, focusing his attention for now on filling three “chief” positions to oversee academics, finances and operations.

Earlier this year, Morse proposed sweeping changes in the school district’s organizational chart in response to a School Committee directive. Some positions were eliminated in the budget for the coming school year, including special education director.

Tonight, Morse will ask the School Committee to endorse his plan to create three positions: chief academic officer, chief finance officer and chief operations officer. The positions have already been advertised, with the committee’s approval, and have attracted about 12 applicants each, from Maine and elsewhere.

“I’m asking the committee to create these positions so we can move forward,” Morse said Tuesday. “We have received resumes from a variety of candidates, some with incredibly rich experience.”

The committee will meet at 7 p.m. in Room 250 at Portland Arts and Technology High School.

Morse said he plans to hire the three chiefs before the end of June, as previously proposed. Then he will work with them to flesh out the rest of the organizational chart.

Morse said he wants to take advantage of their expertise in assessing administrative needs in each area and developing an effective organizational structure.

Morse modeled his initial reorganization plan after those in other school districts, including Boston. He said top administration won’t cost any more than it does now, and could save as much as $100,000 per year.

New positions that Morse initially proposed but has put on hold include two curriculum coordinators — one for science and math and another for literacy and humanities.

Morse also divided the job of special education director into two coordinator positions, in the wake of a consultant’s report in January that showed wide-ranging problems in Portland’s special education program.

Barbara Dee, who was special education director for a decade, left the job last month, Morse said. She is being paid through June 30 but will receive no severance package, he said.

For now, special education is being overseen by Lynn Silva, formerly the assistant special education director, and Chris Kaufman, formerly the chief school psychologist.

Other positions eliminated in 2010-11 are assistant superintendent, held by Jill Blackwood, who will retire in August; human resources director, held by Joline Hart, who retired last month; and educational planning director, held by Tom Lafavore, who will leave at the end of June.

 

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]