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SAU 84 hires interim superintendent


Board considers reinstating cut positions but postpones decision


July 15, 2009
LITTLETON–Last week School Administrative Unit (SAU) 84's School Board announced the name of its choice for interim superintendent: Thomas Stephens.

The announcement, made by board chairman Milt Bratz, came during a special board meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The decision was unanimous, board members said.

"We're very comfortable bringing him on," Bratz said.

Stephens currently lives in Blairsville, Ga. He retired last year as the superintendent of the Union County Board of Education, a position he held for 31 years. His education was at North Georgia College and University, where he received both his bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in education.

Bratz said Stephens will be moving to the area soon and looking for a place to live.

He is scheduled to take over SAU 84 around Aug. 1. Currently Littleton High School Principal Al Smith is acting interim superintendent, a position he has held since June 14, when former superintendent Dottie Danforth stepped down.

Board may reconsider position cuts

Also during the meeting, the board discussed whether to revisit position cuts it made in a board meeting April 13.

During that meeting, the board cut parts of three positions: it reduced a fulltime music position to a one-quarter time position; a half-time reading specialist was cut, as were hours for the school psychologist. The savings were around $85,000, though at the time Danforth recommended much larger position cuts, which the board refused to do.

"We never faced cuts on that scale before and we didn't know the impact they would have on the district," Bratz said. "We took a chance and didn't make the larger cuts."

As it turned out, even the smaller cuts were not needed.

The positions were cut because at the time the SAU was expecting to face a budget deficit, though it turned out there was a large surplus at the end of the year, exceeding $350,000. Also the district was anticipating a major health insurance cost increase, which never materialized.

The board last week considered reinstating part of the music position, perhaps raising it to a half-time position. Bratz said it's never easy to restore changes in staffing once they are done, as often people have moved on.

Smith said the hours for the school psychologist would not have to be restored as those are being done on a contractual basis by an outside agency.

No decision was made on restoring any positions. The board will discuss it again during a meeting next week and in August.

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