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School district administrative realignment

Published: Thursday, April 3, 2014 11:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 3, 2014 1:28 p.m. CDT

From time to time, decisions are made at school that generate some friction or cause the “natives to become restless.” Recently, as I had recommended, our Board of Education approved the hiring of a director of learning. The announcement of this move created a concern with some. Therefore, I am writing to share an explanation of this hiring.

Most have forgotten that when Larry Otten, former middle school principal, retired, he was not replaced. Last summer the board determined it would be best to realign the administrative team. One of the main reasons was to allow building principals more time to be in classrooms to support effective teaching and learning. This realignment included moving the curriculum director at that time, Callie Anderson, to a principal’s position for the lower elementary grades. The realignment also involved moving the elementary assistant principal, Scott Driskell, to be principal of the upper elementary.  Brad Baker then became Middle School Principal. Once these changes were made, we were left with no curriculum director.

This is an extremely important position associated with not only the development and maintenance of the curriculum delivered to our students, but also with many state and federal reports. The number and magnitude of such reports continues to grow as local control of our schools continues to erode away. Due to our status in relation to No Child Left Behind legislation, being identified as a school in need of assistance, additional accountability measures have been required, as well.

The curriculum director position was one that our board and administration, along with the support of our staff, believed could make a stronger, more consistent impact on student learning. Therefore, the position was redesigned and broadened. A list of potential duties and responsibilities that appeared to fit with a director of learning position was then generated. It included curriculum development for all subjects, responsibility for many if not all state and federal reports, and oversight of special education, general education, professional development for staff, English Language Learners (ELL), Title I. Reading, Talented and Gifted (TAG), 504 Plans, district technology learning, teacher mentoring, all government-required testing and district equity coordination. While this list did not include walking on water, it was implied.

I then officially came on-board in July. We began our search for an individual with adequate qualifications and background experience to meet the challenges of all these responsibilities along with the primary duty of improving learning and achievement in our schools. A few brave souls actually applied and were interviewed, but none appeared to offer the total package we were looking for. Our administrative team then rolled up its sleeves and worked to whittle certain duties off of the long list.  Each administrator also took on certain duties until we could find the right person for the position in the spring, the typical hiring season.

Currently the job description includes curriculum direction, oversight of district learning including general education, special education and professional development along with many of the state and federal reports. The assorted other items listed above have been assumed by our current administrators. And as mentioned before, an administrator has recently been hired to fill this position and to fill the void left when a former principal retired and realignment occurred. In the end, the district has not hired an additional administrator as it has appeared due to the time that has passed since the retirement.  

Yes, we have been “getting by” over the past few months. However, we can all agree that when it comes to the educating of our local girls and boys, “getting by” is never good enough. To be straight, the realignment of the administrative positions and the associated changes does cost the district somewhat more money. However, this cost is not near as high as the cost the addition of an entire new position would have been.  Again, the district has not added another administrator, but the district has restructured leadership positions in an effort to improve learning and achievement for our local youngsters. While some may not agree with this change, I hope this has at least explained more specifically what has been adjusted and why.

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