Let's look forward a bit to the next Superintendent.
First, we don't need some national search for a superstar. Please, no national searches and no superstars. We don't need or want a superstar. All we need and want is a competent, honest administrator. Frankly, we can't afford a superstar salary or a superstar ego. We need someone humble, who speaks plainly and clearly, and who wants things done plainly and clearly.
Second, we need a superintendent who understands that the work - the real work - is done in schools by teachers, not in the central office by administrators. The central office plays, at most, a supporting role. Most of the central office work is only indirectly related to teaching: operations, administration, and planning. The primary duties of the central office should be to take the non-academic work off the schools so they are free to focus on academic concerns. The central office's role in academics should be strictly a quality assurance role - making sure that schools and programs are doing what they are supposed to be doing and getting the outcomes they are supposed to be getting.
The next superintendent should put the central office house in order. That means getting all of the non-academic departments working effectively and efficiently. Nutrition, procurement, technology, transportation, warehouse, and facilities maintenance should be hitting their benchmarks and hitting them regularly. Human resources, recordkeeping, and enrollment should be delivering reliably excellent service. The administrative departments, including legal, finance and budget, and capital projects, should be responsive, transparent and accurate. Finally, there needs to be a completely apolitical and integrated planning process - enrollment planning, program placement planning, and capital planning are one and the same. Planning decisions need to be based on data, not on clout.
The next superintendent needs to redefine the mission of the central office with regard to academics. The proper role of the central office regarding academics is quality assurance. The central office should be like the schools' academic auditor. The Executive Directors should be able to visit their schools and confirm that classes are being taught at or beyond grade level. They should be able to confirm that students working below grade level are getting early and effective interventions. They should be able to confirm that students working beyond grade level are getting additional challenge. They should be able to confirm that IEPs are being followed. They should be able to confirm that ELL students are getting served properly. They should be able to confirm compliance with all Board Policies. They should know which students are struggling and which students are excelling and what is being done for them. They should also know which teachers are struggling and which teachers are excelling and what is being done for them.
The central office needs to provide leadership on special needs programs, such as Special Education, bilingual education, and advanced learning. District level expertise is needed in these areas because it is unlikely that the Executive Directors will have enough expertise in all of these areas to be able to fulfill their duty to confirm the quality of the services in the schools. The central experts will also be able to coordinate the efforts of the teachers in the schools around the district - sharing information on practices, materials, and training opportunities. They will act as consulting teachers and a resource for the classroom teachers.
In a similar way and for a similar purpose the central office needs to keep a few curriculum experts in the areas of math, science, literacy, CTE, world languages, arts, and P.E. instruction. These experts will help to develop the District's expectations for content and materials, will coordinate the efforts of teachers across schools, share best practices, and serve as a resource to the classroom teachers.
A look through the directory of the central office reminds me of only a few more departments - small ones like communications, traffic education, athletics, and support and prevention that are appropriate to maintain.
That's it. There is no other work for the central office to do and there is no other work that the central office should take on. The bloated bureaucracy is rooted in the mistaken idea that there is a lot more work that the central office should be doing. There isn't. I don't think we need dedicated full-time staff to work on policy and government relations, research evaluation and assessment, strategic planning, or partnerships. Even if we did, those things could be done in the context of some other work. Strategic planning, for example, can be a staff person in the superintendent's office, not a department of its own. That's if we don't decide that it doesn't need even that much labor devoted to it.