When Paul Rusko's retirement as county coordinator of physical education and athletics takes effect later this month, he expects "the usual kinds of things" to await his successor.

But far from usual is the search for that individual.

A hiring freeze in effect since last November has slowed the Department of Human Resources' efforts to name a replacement for Rusko and his assistant, Jean Boyd. Both are retiring on June 30 after lengthy tenures.

Carol Parham, the county's director of personnel, said she has not heard from county school Superintendent Larry L. Lorton when the positions will be advertised.

Lorton was unavailable for comment.

"Without the freeze, we would have gone through the normalprocess of advertising. A vacancy announcement is circulated giving the various requirements, it's out for a period of time and the applicants are screened," Parham said.

Dennis Younger, the county's coordinator of curriculum, said he hopes to begin interviewing candidates "sometime in August."

"That would have people operating out of that office by the start of the school year. In the meantime, the challenge that faces my office is to maintain continuity. Whenever you turn an entire office over to new staffing, you're probably not going to be running at full speed. It takes people time to get acquainted and oriented with a new job," he said.

"I've had two very, very significant educators in that office. Mr. Rusko and Ms. Boyd are viewed by their contemporaries as among the foremost leaders in their field. The challenge now is trying to replace two dedicated and talented individuals. But I have to assume there are some good educators out there who they have trained and who are ready to move up the occupationalladder."

The hiring freeze was implemented by Lorton last year tohelp offset a nearly $8 million deficit in the county school system.

"I didn't realize we were that deep into the freeze," Rusko admitted. "I knew somethings had carried over from the problems we had early on, but I didn't know how that would impact on both of these positions."

Rusko is working on a "routine of things," such as allocating athletic money to the schools and the effect that future increase in tickets prices from $2 to $3 for sporting events will have on athletic passes.

But much work will remain after June 30, such as the printing and distribution of athletic schedules, and the arranging ofrules interpretation meetings and various coaches workshops.

"It's hard for me to even imagine someone coming in cold without some assistance," said Boyd, who announced her retirement in January after 15years.

"I have tried to do a time line of what has to be done each month, and that's pretty up to date. And right now, I'm working on a draft updating the various brochures we have. I've tried to make itas easy as possible.

"I had hoped when I announced (the retirement) we could have had at least one person in here working by now, but obviously that didn't happen."

Rusko has informed Younger that he will remain past June 30, if necessary, to help out temporarily on a "contract basis."

"That would assure that certain things were being accomplished, so the athletic and physical education programs wouldstart on time," Younger said.

Rusko, who announced his retirementlast month after 20 years in his present capacity, said, "I have certainly told them that I would stay here to help with some things thathave to be done. We'll be covered. We shall not abandon the ship."

Rumors have circulated that only one position would be filled, but Younger said he didn't anticipate a change in the "number of people working in that office."

"I've considered some organizational and structural changes, but I'm not in a position to share that, nor have I concluded there would be changes," he said.

Boyd was relieved tolearn both vacancies would be filled.

"Something would really suffer if they weren't," she said. "I think it's essential that we have two people responsible for the programs. I don't know how one person could do all that."

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