Schenectady city school leaders are proposing an administrative overhaul of the department charged with overseeing curriculum and instruction across the city’s schools.
The proposed reorganization would unwind districtwide content-area coordinators overseeing areas like “math, science, business” and “English language arts and literacy,” and eliminate the district’s chief academic officer, a new position this year. The proposed plan would also trim the number of staff in the central office department from 20 people to 13, shifting employees to other open administrative positions within the district, with no direct layoffs.
The proposed plan, which acting Superintendent Aaron Bochniak and district business official Kimberly Lewis outlined for the school board last Wednesday night, would convert the current office of curriculum and instruction into a new office of instructional support. The instruction office’s current structure has a chief academic officer who oversees seven coordinators and supervisors who in turn oversee curriculum, teacher training and other district-wide intiatives within particular subject areas; for instance, one coordinator focuses on pre-kindergarten and early literacy, while another focuses on social studies and world languages.
The proposed reorganization would collapse those positions into an office with one district director and two assistant directors, who would manage different areas of operations – not divided along course subject areas. Currently the office has nine instructional coaches who work directly in the schools to improve classroom teaching across the district; the proposed reorganization would reduce the number of coaches to seven and eliminate the coordinator who had been charged with overseeing them.
While the majority of board members appeared largely receptive to the reorganization plan, Katherine Stephens said she was particularly concerned about eliminating a supervisor position focused on “culturally responsive education,” the district’s effort to improve student engagement by making its curriculum more reflective of the diversity of its students. She said she was worried about that position being eliminated and wanted to see the plan ensure those efforts were maintained as a major priority and focus.
The reorganized office’s structure, Bochniak said, would more closely mirror that of the district’s other central office departments.
Jose Salgado, who joined the district last summer as its first-ever chief academic officer, plans to leave the district, Bochniak said.
The administrators who hold the other possibly eliminated positions will have a chance to shift to other open administrative jobs, Bochniak said, both in central office and in school buildings. The district is also looking to fill a handful of open principal positions across the district, as well as other administrative positions, including the newly-created director and assistant directors for the proposed new instruction offices.
“They might be in a unique position right now, but their experiences are very wide and varied and they bring a lot to the table,” Bochniak said.
The new principals for Schenectady High School and Mont Pleasant Middle School will be announced Monday as part of the agenda for Wednesday’s school board meeting, Bochniak said. Three elementary schools will also need new principals at the start of next school year. Bochniak said the district will look to fill those opening with internal candidates before opening them wider if necessary, part of efforts to freeze new hiring and limit spending.