Montgomery school system cuts positions to make room for new chief -- Gazette.Net


Montgomery County Public Schools has cut three positions and part-time staff funding to make room for a new high-level administrator who will earn $165,875 a year.

Andrew Zuckerman became Superintendent Joshua P. Starr’s chief of staff on Monday .

Brian Edwards, who served simultaneously as chief of staff and chief of communications, now will serve as chief of communications. Edwards’ salary — $159,265, according to schools spokesperson Dana Tofig — will stay the same.

The positions cut to pay for the changes were central office jobs, said Chief Operating Officer Larry Bowers.

A position in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, held by an employee who retired, will not be filled, he said. A communications specialist position, which is currently listed as an open position, will not be filled. Similarly, a secretarial position in the long-range planning division will not be filled.

About $68,000 in funding for part-time staff also will be cut. Bowers said those funds are used to hire people, usually former or retired counselors, who help schools with scheduling.

Edwards, who was chief of staff under former superintendent Jerry Weast, adopted the communications position in 2010, when former Chief Communications Officer Aggie Alvez left the school system, Edwards said.

“Due to budget constraints, as well as the fact that Dr. Weast was in the last couple years of his contract, we just decided to merge that position under me,” he said.

But with Starr’s plans to ramp up communications efforts, the dual position had to be split back into the chief of staff and chief of communications roles.

“We need to have a robust communication effort,” Edwards said, explaining that one person could not sustainably handle both jobs. “It made sense at this point to split those two roles.”

Edwards will continue to report to Starr as the chief communications officer. Though he served as chief of staff before the two positions were merged, Edwards emphasized that he does not see his communications position as a step down in any way.

Zuckerman is the former associate superintendent for Prince George’s County Schools, where he led a region of the county’s schools. He has worked in administrative roles for that county since 2008, The Gazette previously reported.

Zuckerman said he and Starr had “a series of conversations” over a few months about the chief of staff position.

“We’re working on similar goals and similar initiatives,” Zuckerman said, including the implementation of Common Core State Standards and new evaluation processes for teachers and principals.

He applied for the position in May. Starr announced on May 14 that Zuckerman had been selected for the job.

Zuckerman expects “a fairly seamless transition” into MCPS, though he has not yet decided whether he will move into the county.