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Cousin puts off filling a new position

The Baltimore Sun

Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin has decided to halt the application process to fill a newly developed assistant superintendent position, saying the school board should have the opportunity to discuss the new job during the budget process.

After a recommendation by an outside audit that the school system centralize communications functions, the position was created to oversee public information, TV services and partnerships offices.

"There were some people who raised the question over why there was another high-level administrator," said Cousin, adding that the position ranks lower than a chief position in the county school system hierarchy.

The decision to interrupt the application process was not prompted by the public, Cousin stressed.

"That is not the reason why we decided to do this," he said. "There is always going to be some type of questioning or opposition to some items in the budget. We cannot run the budget according to something they would not like to see in the budget."

Ellen Flynn Giles, vice chairman of the board, supports halting the process.

"It seemed appropriate to make it a part of the overall budget discussion, than to assume it was going to be in place," she said.

The public will have an opportunity to discuss the operating budget during a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22 in the boardroom of the Howard County Board of Education in Ellicott City.

The proposed assistant superintendent position has been advertised with a salary range of $96,400 to $177,060. Twenty-five people applied for the job, according to Kirk Thompson, the school system's director of human resources. The application deadline was Friday.

Originally, the position was slated to be filled this spring with $100,000 that was earmarked in the current 2008 fiscal budget. Because the money was already parceled, there is still a chance that the position will be filled before the end of the current school year, Cousin said.

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