Monday, May 19, 2014

Seattle Schools Leadership Update

I'll print this in its entirety.  From Superintendent Banda:

Today we are announcing several leadership changes that will improve our ability to support our schools and students.

Our Strategic Plan outlines a series of goals we must achieve over the next five years to improve academic success for our students. To meet the objectives outlined in the Every Student. Every Classroom. Every Day. strategic plan, we will need to accomplish several complex projects and develop a way to support and guide this work. We recently made two key hires that will help us strengthen our ability to provide better service to schools, students and families.

Barbara Robbins will now serve as the Director of Project Management and Guillermo “Bill” Echeverria has been hired as Director of Continuous Improvement. These are new positions for Seattle Public Schools and they bring a much-needed skill set to the work we are doing. Together, they will help us improve the coordination, sequencing, and execution of our work as a system. In turn, this will help us improve service to our schools and families.

Here is a little more information about what Barb and Bill will bring to our schools and staff in their roles.

As Director of Project Management, Barb will be responsible for ensuring major initiatives stay on task, including the 32 statements of work that must be executed as part of the Strategic Plan.
She will develop and implement a methodology to help us ensure the work related to these major initiatives is well-defined, well-planned, and properly resourced. As a part of this work, she will help increase transparency on what projects are planned or underway and what their status is, who the contact people are, and which schools or departments are impacted. An important part of her role is to monitor the impact to schools and departments so leadership can be aware of workload challenges. In addition, she will help ensure success and efficiency in our work by developing and implementing a standard way of running projects, which we don’t currently have at the District.

Barb has been at the District for the past four years in a variety of roles, including project manager for several technology system implementations, and most recently as Director of Technology Services.
Prior to her work at the District, Barb was a Senior Strategic Advisor for the City of Seattle, providing citywide oversight to the most business-critical technology projects. She has more than 15 years of experience in project management, including work at Casey Family Program as Director of Application Support and Director of Financial Systems, and at Timeline, Inc., where she implemented financial and business systems nationwide. Barb earned a Bachelor of Arts and holds a Project Management Certification from the University of Washington. Barb will report to the Deputy Superintendent.

As Director of Continuous Improvement, Bill will be focused on the day-to-day processes needed to improve our service to schools and students. For example, he will work with us to review processes such as enrollment services, transportation service standards and budgeting processes to ensure they are implemented in a way that is clear and meets the needs of our staff and families. Bill will be responsible for helping develop written processes that make it easier for staff and stakeholders to understand criteria guiding decision making, when opportunities for input will be provided, when decisions will be made, and how services will be delivered.

Bill served as Director of Operations and Continuous Improvement in the Strategy Office for Denver Public Schools, where he successfully led several operational departments and oversaw cross-functional projects, such as the streamlining of the early education application process serving 15,000 families.

A former math teacher, Bill most recently served as the Director of Business Operations and Continuous Improvement for CoreSite, an information technology company. His role was to lead, develop, and deploy a continuous improvement program to improve business processes and customer experience. He has a Master of Science degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from State University of New York at Binghamton, a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Lima in Peru and a project management certification. Bill will report to the Deputy Superintendent.

In addition, we have taken an important step to build upon our prior work in School and Community Partnerships, and to strengthen our Athletics programs.

Carri Campbell is now the Director of School and Community Partnerships, replacing Courtney Cameron, who left the District to take a role at the Seattle Housing Authority. In her new role, Carri will be responsible for strengthening the relationship between the District, schools, local community-based organizations (CBOs) and funders for the purpose of promoting educational excellence for all students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools. She will work closely with principals, Executive Directors for Schools, Curriculum and Instruction staff, and partners to develop a district-wide, integrated system of partnership supports aimed at enhancing educational opportunities and improving student outcomes.
Carri joined Seattle Public Schools in 2007, and most recently served as the Visual and Performing Arts Manager, leading a major partnership initiative with the City of Seattle, arts partners, and community to develop a K-12 arts plan called The Creative Advantage. The Creative Advantage is in its first full year of implementation.

Carri started her career as a teacher, and then served as Associate Curator of Education for the Tacoma Art Museum before joining Seattle Public Schools. She holds a Masters of Education in Integrated Curriculum from UW Tacoma and a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Western Washington University. Carri will report to Clover Codd, Executive Director of Strategic Plan & Partnerships.

Eric McCurdy has been promoted from Director of Athletics to Executive Director of Athletics.

In this new role, Eric will have expanded responsibilities, including overseeing hiring of all head coaches, in conjunction with principals. All athletics concerns and issues will be handled directly by Eric’s department, rather than at the school level. He will also ensure our expanded athletics program, serving more than 10,000 students, is properly planned, implemented and effectively maintained to support student engagement, safety, coaching excellence and athletic program sustainability. He will help lead major changes in athletics, including the return of three of our high schools – Garfield, Roosevelt, Ballard – to the Metro League.

In addition, he will oversee the move to creating a robust middle school athletics program. As research has indicated, an effective and powerful athletic program can increase student connectedness to school, increase academic achievement and build school communities.

Eric has been at the District since 2010 and has served as Director of Athletics for the past year and a half. Under his leadership, he helped develop the first National Unified Sports Program in partnership with Special Olympics. He also serves on the Sea-King District 2 Executive Board, the Seattle Sports Advisory Board, the Washington State Secondary Athletic Administrators Association Executive Board (WSSAAA), the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) Executive Board, National Tournament Committee, and Special Olympics/Unified Committees. Eric is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is also working on his Master’s degree in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University and is a Certified Athletic Administrator.

Please join us in congratulating Barb, Carri and Eric on their new jobs and responsibilities and welcoming Bill to the District.

My thoughts:

  • After a fairly consistent stream of hiring - for new positions - I am not willing to believe that district hiring is on the same level as other districts.  The district keeps touting this, just as they keep hiring, and it's just not plausible (unless you write what is an "administration" position.)
  • Again, any "strategic plan" that has more than 10 items, is not a plan.  That our district has 32 steps reminds me a lot of the days of Maria Goodloe-Johnson and her overloaded strategic plan.
  • It's 2014 and the district says it doesn't have a way of "developing and implementing a standard way of running projects..."  Wow, most districts wouldn't admit that out loud so good for SPS.

  • Remember Mr. Echeverria's name because he is responsible for "helping develop written processes that make it easier for staff and stakeholders to understand criteria guiding decision making, when opportunities for input will be provided, when decisions will be made, and how services will be delivered."  That's a huge job so this should be interesting.  
  • I also not that Mr. Escheverria did early education application processes for Denver Public Schools.  Wonder how that ties in with the City's new universal preschool push.
  • I am sorry to see Carri Campbell no longer heading Arts.  She did a fine job.
  • Mr. McCurdy was less than impressive at a recent Work Session when he did not come with any numbers to report or discuss with the Board (who did, indeed, ask about figures).


Charlie Mas said...

More executives.

mirmac1 said...

MGJ brought the Broad "Project Management" perspective to SPS. All the bigwigs downtown got training. It was a big nothing.

In my view, the only major project that needs a manager is the special education new service delivery.

Bill sounds like a compadre of Charles Wright.

Is this Central idea of making itself relevant. Process improvement and project management?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kids, this is consolidation of power and it's at headquarters. I think any kind of real innovation at any school is going away. I doubt if the Creative Approach schools will survive.

Charlie Mas said...

In truth, the Central Administration has bitten off much more than it can chew. They have made extravagent promises that they cannot begin to deliver. Here are just three of them:

Special Education. Not only is the District scrambling to meet the requirements of the OSPI correction plan, they are trying to design and implement a whole new vision for Special Education. Unfortunately, their Vision isn't that clear (or all that good), and the habits and legacy practices aren't going away very easily. This project reaches into nearly every classroom in the district. This is a huge struggle and would be difficult and time consuming enough to be the District's sole project.

MTSS. The District claims to be implementing Multi-Tier Systems of Support. Again, this project reaches into every classroom in the district and, by itself, would be enough to occupy the entire district, but it's just one of dozens.

Common Core. Again, a project that both reaches into every single classroom and could justifiably be the district's sole project for the next two years.

Just these three projects - nevermind all of the others - will be nearly impossible for an organization that has proven so utterly incapable of implementations. All of these projects require revolutionary changes for the teachers, but teachers haven't been actively engaged in any of them. They will all appear as mandates coming down from the adminosphere. Given the district's notorious inability to monitor or enforce, the teachers will all be essentially free to ignore all of it.

The Central Administration has committed itself to these projects, but these projects don't require any changes in central administration. The folks in the JSCEE won't have to change anything they do. All of the real work of implementing these projects will have to happen in the classrooms and will have to be done by the teachers. And where are the teachers in this process? Nowhere. There has been little or no teacher involvement in the development of these initiatives, and little or no effort to win teacher buy-in. The JSCEE staff act like they can just issue orders and the teacher corps will jump. I have no idea where they get these notions.

Anonymous said...

Hmm... wonder how many of those classroom people got riffed to pay for "continuous improvement" - what a bunch of malarkey.


Anonymous said...

I did a little research on the new person, Bill Echevarria, and he is definitely in the reformer camp. I googled his name and looked at his Linked in profile. It looks like he taught math for a short while down in the Denver area, but he doesn't list an education degree. His major was Engineering. He also follows Michelle Rhee and the Broad foundation. Not sure if he was a TFA, as he doesn't mention it there. He also took part in the Walton Leadership program, as well as some others. I have checked out some of the other recent appointments and see that reform minded people, with similar backgrounds, are the ones that Banda is choosing for our leadership positions in this district, which is worrisome.

As for the Special Ed changes, as a SPED teacher, I have yet to see or hear of what they are. I hope it isn't like the last time they made changes and we found out after school started, via osmosis.

mirmac1 said...

For years now, the SOLE project at Central has been PGE and HR "transformation". How's that panning out? After $MM$s spent.

Anonymous said...

There is just no way this money would not have been better spent on teachers. More teachers at almost any school, at this point, would be better. How many would these salaries fund? 5?


Anonymous said...

A Director of Project Management AND a Director of Continuous Improvement??? (Don't principals serve that function? Aren't they the ones, working with their teachers, trying to improve the teaching and increase effectiveness so that their kids do better and better? Aren't they overseen by a cast of Ex Directors???) We already have a Director of Operations, who in turn has a Director of Logistics (Transportation), report to her, AND we have of course, Assistant Superintendents, one for Teaching and Learning, plus his fleet of personnel (Curriculum and Instruction has a Director). AND we have a Deputy Superintendent (what exactly is his job?).

Are these two newest positions really an absolutely necessary expense? Couldn't we have just hired 6 more teachers to lower some ridiculous class sizes? Some middle school teachers have sections with 42 in it, they teacher far beyond 150 students.

My own school has 6 fifth grade classes each with either 30 or 31 students. If just one added teacher was payed for, by the District in its wisdom, then the classes would all be 25 or 26 students. Wouldn't that be a better investment to achieve 'continuous improvement'? It sure would, at least in the opinion of 181 students, 6 teachers, 1 principal, and 362 parents and guardians. And, that is just one example. I bet there are dozens and dozens of examples in buildings in all regions and in each grade band. If nothing else, Special Ed could sure use some more teachers and department types. Really, in buildings with 96% F&RL, couldn't you have 'invested' in 'continuing to improve' the lives of students, by adding a teacher in the lower grades, and bring down the teacher - student ratio to 15? That would make for an unbelievably excellent improvement in the lives of those students! That would be a real boost up for students from economically disadvantaged situations. That would have durably impactful, measurable, academic affect.

Mr. Banda, in consulting parlance, this hiring mini-spree is called 'creep'. What will we have to show for the investment of these 2 positions in 3 years? Don't you trust our teachers, their principals, and their overseers, the Ex Directors, to serve students and work to make things better? Don't you think they know what they are doing, and, maybe you should listen to them? Won't these 2 positions be essential redundant? Wouldn't Dr. Libros be able to do better things with the money, identifying buildings who need, NEED, another teacher to 'improve things'?

Class size matters. Teachers are the heart of education, they are the ones next to the students. More of them, please. Less administration, more actual teaching.


Anonymous said...

I am really disappointed that they hired the Community Partnerships position from within. This position, in particular, would have been a very good opportunity for the District to reach out to the community and bring an experienced executive director from a leading community-based organization. Leadership should come from someone who deeply understands the work of CBOs, especially those that serve low income and minority youth - not another District technocrat with very little "real world" experience.

Disappointed Again

Anonymous said...

When will they hire for the Ministry of Silly Hats?

Assistant Superintendent for Funny Walks?

Maybe they could have funded full-time librarians or full-time art teachers at the schools that can't afford to supplement from PTA?

Signed: Math Counts

Anonymous said...

everytime these come out I'm hoping and praying to see tolley shuffling of the JSCEE mortal coil and gravy train.


Anonymous said...

Do any of these hires need Board approval -- does the employment contract (including benefits) go beyond $250K?

Is the a mechanism for the Board to openly question adding two expensive
Muckity mucks in a time of severe operating budget tightness/deficits?

Don't think there is, but this just burns money and doesn't help children.

Waste Not

Greenwoody said...

What's amazing to me is that these staffing changes are what drive SPS policies, rather than the board. Is our school board unwilling to stand up to staff and insist that the democratically elected representatives of the people, not bureaucrats, make choices for our schools?

Anonymous said...

"What's amazing to me is that these staffing changes are what drive SPS policies, rather than the board."

I see the Board getting less and less traction year to year. What do others see?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, I think that is a product of browbeating by media/ed reform types over "micromanaging." I think they fear that label and that it marginalizes them.