The way Boston’s school district is structured is about to radically change if the ideas proposed by the Superintendent Carol R. Johnson come to fruition. Johnson hopes to organize the district schools into small networks with each one headed by a central office executive who will report directly to her.
Johnson hopes that the reorganization will make it easier detect and diagnose problems more rapidly, as well as to provide support that is better targeted to the school in question. The change will also do much to stem the tide of complaints that the School Department in the city is getting too bureaucratic.
The organizational proposal comes at a time when Johnson is faced with replacing a number of high-level staff members after several who have worked with her most closely departed over the past several months. Among the most notable was the departure of Deputy Superintendent Michael Goar, who had been working with Johnson since her time heading up school districts in Memphis and Minneapolis.
Johnson announced in July that she would be shaking up her administrative team, after a series of incidents came to light that raised questions about a possible breakdown in communication and oversight up and down the ranks. But Johnson said today she had been looking to overhaul the executive team months before the July announcement and had surveyed principals in the spring, which revealed a high-level of frustration among principals toward the central office on Court Street.
The fact that the central office has become too fragmented became obvious in the way the system forced principals to meet with several different officials to resolve many of their issues. Under the new system, each network will be assigned several dedicated staff people each dealing with a specific aspect of school administration such as human resources, academics and finance. They will report to the assistant superintendent for each network, who will also bear the responsibility for assessing the performance of leaders of each school under their umbrella.
The city’s approximately 80 elementary, middle and K-8 schools would be divided into six networks, based on geographic location. The high schools would belong to two other networks. Johnson said the new structure should not produce any additional costs for the districts because some positions will be phased out to make way for the new positions. It remains unclear when hiring of the new positions will begin.
Later this week, Johnson will be presenting the full proposal to school principals and other city education leaders, whose reaction will hopefully match the enthusiasm of Lynne Mooney Teta , the headmaster of Boston Latin School, who worked with Johnson to develop it.
“We wanted a structure that would allow us to continue that collaboration and sharing,” Mooney Teta said