School Superintendent Pamela C. Brown announced Wednesday that she will restructure the central office to make it more responsive to schools and principals as part of a reorganization expected to significantly change her cabinet by June 30.
Brown also announced that Mary Guinn, whose experience includes serving as superintendent of Indiana’s Gary School District, will serve as interim deputy superintendent through the same date to free up Brown to focus on strategic planning.
“For a number of reasons, the district’s Central Office is not optimally organized to support schools as effectively as we should. As a result, schools in some cases are left to fend for themselves in educating our children,” Brown said she had concluded after analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the district since beginning her job nine months ago.
[“The district] fails to promote strategic planning, collaboration or accountability at the levels we should be doing so,” she said, adding it led to “inefficiency and low morale.”
Brown said that with a $51.2 million deficit projected for the 2013-14 school year – which she said state officials have indicated may be considerably lower – it was imperative that the central office reduce inefficiencies. The reorganization, she said, was conservatively expected to save $2.1 million, she said.
“It is my intention, regardless of the size of the deficit, to protect schools and services for children as much as possible. Which means we must find some cost-savings in the central office, and do more with less,” she said.
Among the other changes Brown announced:
• Most departments will report to the deputy superintendent.
• The chief of staff and chief of operations will be combined into one position.
• A fourth chief of school leadership – formerly called community superintendents – will be added, with all remaining in the Cabinet and expected to be “a one-stop shop” for principals.
Brown, with Guinn’s help, is expected to interview Cabinet members – most of whom have terms that expire June 30 – to discuss their interest and qualifications in transitioning into the new jobs and command structure. More changes, she said, will be announced in the spring.
Brown said the district analyzed various organization studies before she came to Buffalo and seven school districts that have also gone through restructuring, including Boston, Providence, Newark and Pittsburgh.
“This analysis greatly informed our work,” Brown said.
Brown also talked about establishing the “Buffalo Way,” which would drive more resources to the school level while being more responsive to school needs. Schools, she said, would be expected to be more accountable.
Brown said she expected to do a national search for some of the restructured cabinet positions.