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Carole Smith: A new structure for PPS administration

June 03, 2009
Today I want to share with you more details about the leadership and organizational restructuring that I discussed in the amended budget proposal I presented recently to the school board.
Goals

The purpose of this leadership restructuring is to improve student achievement and school performance by bringing the educational and organizational support that our school district provides closer to our schools and families.

This means we need to narrow the distance between the superintendent and the classroom by reducing the complexity of our school district-wide functions.

It means we need to provide our schools with easier to access, better aligned and more coordinated educational and organizational assistance.

It means we need to establish a higher degree of collaboration, mutual support and mutual accountability across Portland Public Schools.

Educational Leadership

Through this reorganization, I am eliminating the positions of Assistant Superintendent, Area Director and other top leadership titles.

This change results in a total of 19 leadership and administrative support positions we are cutting from our budget, at this stage.

I am replacing these roles with a new leadership structure that will provide more direct and streamlined guidance and support to our schools.

Moving forward, our educational leadership will be directed by a Chief Academic Officer (existing position, currently unfilled) and four new PK-12 Deputy Superintendent positions. An organizational chart illustrates the new structure.

The Chief Academic Officer will be responsible for increasing student achievement and closing the achievement gap by providing leadership and direction to our Integrated Educational Services functions. These services include: curriculum and professional development, special ed and student services, ESL, TAG and federal, state and strategic grant-funded programs. I have asked Cliff Brush to lead the new federal, state and strategic grant program office.

Deputy Superintendents will be responsible for improving school performance and ensuring equity by providing leadership and direction to a specific portfolio of PK-12 schools and programs. They will direct the coordinated deployment of educational services to schools across a defined region.

Deputy Superintendent Appointments

I am pleased to announce my appointments to fill the PK-12 Deputy Superintendent positions:
  • Toni Hunter, (schools TBD): Toni Hunter currently serves as assistant superintendent of high schools. She has more than 30 years' experience in PPS, including 11 years as the principal of Grant High School. During her career, she has been a counselor, a teacher and vice principal at Benson, Lincoln and Madison high schools.
  • Greg Baker, (schools TBD): Greg Baker has been a teacher, principal and superintendent staff in schools from Alaska to Boston, MA. He has worked for PPS since 2006, serving as Leadership Director and then K-8 Area Director for the Wilson/Roosevelt clusters.
  • Mark Davalos, (schools TBD): Mark Davalos has been with PPS since 2005. He has served as Area Director for Roosevelt/Benson and Madison/Marshall K-8 schools. Previously he has served as principal of Sprague High School in Salem-Keizer school district and as Salem-Keizer's Assistant Director for Secondary Education.
  • Charles Hopson, District-wide programs (focus options, Benson, Education Options and other district-wide programs): Charles Hopson is currently serving as the Area Director for Cleveland, Grant, Franklin and Lincoln High Schools. Charles has twenty years of experience as a special education teacher, elementary and middle school principal, high school vice principal and recently, principal for Franklin High School.
I will appoint a CAO as soon as soon as we complete our search.

Leaders stepping into schools

In my message to the school board, I stated that school principals perform the most visible and important educational leadership role in our school district. As part of this reorganization, I have issued a call to senior leaders to step into schools where we have vacancies and the need for strong educational direction.

I am honored to announce that several central office leaders have elected to serve in this leadership capacity: Willie Poinsette, John Horn, Bev Pruitt and Tom Breuckman.

I appreciate their commitment to our schools and their willingness to build exemplary practice in our buildings that becomes visible throughout our school district and our community.

Stronger organizational support for schools

Finally, as part of this reorganization, we are realigning our organizational support functions to provide more focused and integrated supports to schools. These supports include human resources, payroll and other fiscal duties, facilities, legal services and community involvement.

As a part of this realignment and emphasis on building a culture of service to schools, Cynthia Gilliam will be assuming a position in Human Resources that will include performance management support for schools.

Programs that are currently located within the Department of Family and Community Engagement will be consolidated into the Integrated Educational Services Organization and into our new Department of Community Involvement and Public Affairs.

Our current communications, government affairs, family support and partnership functions will be consolidated into the Department of Community Involvement and Public Affairs as well, in order to infuse all of our work with high expectations for the authentic engagement of our key stakeholders and to provide more coordinated support to our public involvement work.

Cost savings

As I told the school board, while I believe our centralized services can provide more direct and better coordinated support to schools, I do not believe that our central office has been fat.

After this reorganization, the central office will be reduced by a net total of at least 10.5 of senior and support positions, saving approximately $1 million.

This year, central services accounted for approximately 4% of our entire general fund budget, which is the average percentage that Oregon school districts spend on central support. After this reorganization, our central supports will be even less.

Next Steps

These changes are intended to wrap the right supports around our schools in a more consistent and equitable way.

Make no mistake - they are not intended to further decentralize a system that has suffered from inconsistency and inequity in educational programs.

As we go forward, I will continue to share more details about this reorganization. I will also share more details of my vision for how Portland Public Schools will strengthen the things we hold in common - including the strategies we use to increase student achievement and to close the achievement gap, the way we hold ourselves accountable to our community and to each other and our commitment to forging stronger connections with our families and community members.

Thank you for your commitment to the educational success of all of our students in Portland Public Schools.


Carole Smith

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