The Cumberland County school system is seeking a new student information system administrator. 

Jill Pugh, who has held the post for several years, decided she wanted to return to the classroom as a teacher.

The position is vital to ensuring the school system receives full funding for all students by reporting average daily maintenance enrollment numbers to the state.

"They dig in and find a way to understand how each person is coded and when, and determining how we get paid," explained Director of Schools Janet Graham. 

The Cumberland County Board of Education approved a revised job description for the post. The changes include who the position reports to, changing it to the attendance supervisor, Bo Magnusson.

During the June 27 meeting, Tom Netherton, 6th District representative, questioned the educational requirements for the position.

"There's a lot of different knowledge this person is going to have to have, like advanced math," Netherton said. "When I get to the bottom when it's talking about the educational requirements, it says a bachelor's degree in job-related areas.

"Define job-related areas."

Graham said the job requires extensive computer skills.

"Most of this is online with Skyward, which our parents and students utilize," she said. "It's technology based."

Netherton asked if the job description should provide preference to individuals with computer skills, technical skills or mathematical skills.

"To me, it's too generic," he said.

Graham revised the job description and returned to the board during a special-called meeting Tuesday night. 

"It's easy enough for us. We know what skills are needed as we interview. That might not be something the general public would know," she said. 

Stace Karge, 9th District representative, said the skills requirement included operating systems, programming systems and computer skills.

When the board reconvened at a special-called meeting Tuesday, Netherton was unable to attend. Jane Franklin, executive assistant to Graham, said she had reviewed the changes to the job description with him, which stated a bachelor’s degree was required.

Josh Stone, 4th District representative, moved to again table action on the job description, supported by Jim Inman, 1st District representative.

Graham said the board needs to take action so the school system could begin advertising the position and get someone in place ahead of the Aug. 1 start of school.

“We need this person on board really quickly,” Graham said. 

Inman noted this is not a new position. 

“Why can we not hire somebody under the old job description until we have a vote on this one? I don’t understand the urgency,” Inman asked.

Graham said, “We didn’t mind that, but the last time we made a change on the job description after that, there was some upset over that. So before we put it out there, we wanted you to know exactly what that job description said.”

Tony Brock, 5th District representative, was unable to attend the June 27 meeting. He said simply requiring a bachelor’s degree was too vague.

He also questioned having the position require teacher certification and reporting to the attendance supervisor, who is also the schools safety supervisor.

“We’ve got excellent attendance clerks who do not have a college degree and would be more than happy to work and would see it as a very nice promotion,” Brock said. “So, I don’t like the job description, either.”

Rebecca Wood, chief academic officer, said the coordinator worked closely with her during online state-mandated testing and also assisted with claiming of student test scores, which make up a portion of teacher evaluation scores. 

“To me, it’s very important to have that person understand that process,” Wood said. “It’s not just a clerical list. There’s quite a bit more than goes with it.”

The last four people to hold the position have been certified educators. 

“That’s really served us well as we move closer to that online testing,” Wood said. “She [Pugh] was as much of a testing coordinator as I was because she sat right there with me and we were watching testing sessions happen.

“She served as my right-hand person during that testing process.”

Brock asked why the position would report to the safety supervisor. Magnusson is a certified attendance teacher, a requirement of the state. Magnusson also reports to Wood.

Brock said, “It sounds to me like we’ve got too many supervisors along this chain, as well. I’m sorry, I’m getting lost in this. I wouldn’t have a problem with this person being supervised by someone who is very knowledge, very aware and very concerned about academic progress.”

Stone said he would agree to table the item pending further discussion so long as the school system can hire someone in the meantime. 

But Stone questioned the board’s “micromanaging” in regard to job descriptions, chain of command and supervision.

“She’s the one living this everyday,” Stone said. “I guess I trust the fact they’re living in this every day and doing the work on the ground level. I put a lot of stock on the fact they know better on this.

“If she [Graham] says this person would be better overseeing this person, I take her word for that.”

The board unanimously agreed to table the job description.

In other action, the board approved the second and final reading of policy changes:

•Interscholastic Athletics, policy 4.301, to state the county’s athletic manual shall regulate the operation and control of middle school and elementary athletics

•Personal and Professional Leave, policy 5.303, to allow non-certified employees to convert unused personal days in excess of five to be converted to sick days

•Long-Term Leave of Absences, policy 5.304, to include that leave may be granted to visit a spouse, child or parent deployed for military duty out of the country, that the director of schools shall grant leave for other sufficient reasons, and that personnel do not forfeit accumulated leave credits, tenure status or other fringe benefits.

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.