Two things have got me thinking about the School District Central staff.
1) The unspeakable crime of standardized materials for the express purpose of committing the greater crime of scripted lessons. This is a natural result of Parkinson's Law and the incessant creeping growth of administrative systems.
2) The audit that found that Seattle Public Schools had significantly more supervisors and administrators than other districts and the way that cuts came to the Central office. First it was going to be $5 million, then $4 million, then $3.8 million. Now we learn that the positions cut were not the supervisors or administrators but clerks, janitors and copy machine repair people.
Here's what I'm thinking: We need to take a fresh look at the purpose of the Central Staff. Then we need to narrow their mission - severely - particularly when it comes to Learning and Teaching.
There are three legitimate roles for the Central Office in Learning and Teaching:
1) writing curricula
2) monitoring for quality and effectiveness
3) sending out targeted improvement teams to support struggling students, teachers, and principals
They should be able to do it all with a MUCH smaller staff. It should just be the CAO and five to eight education directors, the four program managers (Special Ed, Bilingual, Advanced Learning, and Intervention), and a few curriculum experts (reading, writing, math, science, art, music, P.E., CTE, international/world language)
After them, the Central Office should have some teacher and principal coaches - with expertise in the specific programs and curricula areas - to dispatch to identified trouble spots, and some teacher and principal coaches - again, with expertise in the specific programs and curricula areas - who are making a regular circuit - doing both checking for quality and effectiveness and coaching.
I don't know why they need anything more than that.
The only supervisors they need are the education directors and the only other administrators they need are the program managers and curriculum heads. Everyone else should be on the front line in the school buildings working with students, teachers, or principals.
Of course, the Central office will also have to have operations staff, such as HR people, IT people, legal, Enrollment, Facilities, Accounting, Transportation, and Nutrition Services and such to take care of those sorts of operational things, but really, not a lot more. It should be a really flat organization.
Is that how it is now? When Kathleen Vasquez spoke to the Board about the need to hire a consultant to come in and write the aligned curriculum she explained how few people each department had and how these folks did not have time to do this work. So maybe the District's Central Office is already this sparse - or sparser. Somehow I don't believe it.
Do we really need someone at the District level to head up programs like Gear Up! or IGNITE or Proyecto Saber? Could it be run out of the Intervention office? Do we really need someone specifically to take charge of Program Placement?
I wonder if there really is any place that we could cut if we sharply re-focused the purpose of the JSCEE. What do you all think?