Education

Jul 8, 2013 7:44 PM by Chris Welty

Controversial Hire Taking on More Responsibility

Special Assistant to the Superintendent, Thad Welch is taking on more responsibilities in the Lafayette Parish School System.

You'll recall Welch's position came under fire from the school board after it was revealed he does not have a high school diploma. In January 2012, Welch started working as a contract employee for LPSS. In March of that year, he was hired as Special Assistant to Superintendent Doctor Pat Cooper. A year later, the school board vetoed funding for Welch's position.

Cooper maintains hiring Welch was a good decision and is saving the district money. He now hopes Welch will save the district even more.

Thad Welch has been on the job nearly 16 months. Superintendent Pat Cooper praises his work and says he's saved the district more than 250-thousand dollars by consolidating in areas, and making sure workers are efficient.

"If you get a good, experienced person who has done these things before, you will get the results you want," said Cooper.

He is asking Welch to take a closer look at transportation and bus maintenance since former transportation director Bill Samec retired this month.

"We've gone through the maintenance, the custodial and now we're hitting the transportation. I think once we're finished with this, we'll see major savings in that department," said Cooper.

He hopes Welch will save the transportation department more than four million dollars. Welch will look at work output, bus repair order times and how much is spent on contracts. Cooper says Welch's experience will make a difference.

"If they're willing to operate on data, then they will back off on this and say it was a good decision," said Cooper.

One of the most outspoken school board members against the hire of Welch initially stands by his opinion saying giving him more responsibility isn't the right move.

"if the job description wasn't being met in the first place, why would you incorporate some of the responsibilities of another job to that same individual who doesn't meet the requirements. It doesn't make sense to me," said Tehmi Chassion.

Welch will be making his recommendations for cuts to the new transportation director, Damon Evans. He has been on the job for one week.

Welch won't be getting more money for the new duties because his job description already includes that role. The entire title: Special Assistant to the Superintendent for grounds, facilities, maintenance and transportation. You'll remember the school board vetoed funding for this position.

So, how is Welch being paid?

Billy Guidry, Chief Financial Officer for the LPSS says, "Nothing has changed from an actual expenditure standpoint. His payroll is being charged to the same account as it has always been."

Cooper says, "The superintendent has the authority to transfer budget money within budget categories without going to the board and that's what I did. When they took the line item away, that was one part and we still had other pieces to take money from it and we're following board policy to the T."

Superintendent Cooper says Welch is still working on earning his GED which was one of the requirements of the position when he started.

Chris Welty
cwelty@katctv.com

 

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