February 5, 2013 in City

Spokane schools shake-up aims for efficiency

Some district administrators being sent back to the classroom
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane’s new schools superintendent is sending some central office administrators back to the classroom in a move that will save $250,000.

The shake-up announced Monday evening is expected to reward principals and teachers with more control within Spokane Public Schools. Seventeen employees will be affected, including 10 who will be sent to schools either part time or full time. Seven others will be reassigned as part of changes that will happen over two years.

“We are still in lean times, so saving money is important, but this was driven by how to best serve the schools,” Superintendent Shelley Redinger said. The changes will save money and give teachers more say in what should happen in the classroom.

Redinger started her job in July and said she has listened to concerns and complaints from the community, faculty and staff and has worked with her leadership team in order to learn how to make the district more efficient.

“The community has been asking us to be nimble … hear their concerns and react quicker,” said Steven Gering, chief academic officer.

The biggest changes will occur in the teaching and learning department. Ten employees who focused on curriculum will go back into the classroom, and a management level will be eliminated. The district’s three executive directors in charge of teaching and learning will go into other leadership positions within the district.

“Moving forward, the department will consist of elementary and secondary teams with a lead administrator overseeing curriculum and another lead administrator evaluating building leaders,” said Terren Roloff, district spokeswoman. “The intent of these new positions is a more efficient working relationship with school staff.”

Three other positions in Student Intervention and Support Services also are affected by the restructuring.

“I’m excited about the direction the district wants to go in,” said Jenny Rose, Spokane Education Association president. “Shelley wants to be closer to the principals and not have a level between them. The people in the schools actually doing the work will be helping make decisions.”

Rose added: “(Redinger has) always said she doesn’t want people downtown who aren’t directly affecting the people in the classroom. It’s time for a change.”

The school board also supported the changes.

“We knew that she’d had high-level administrative experience in three districts, and had had experience in reorganizing, to some degree, how the work was handled,” said Bob Douthitt, president of the school board. “So we felt that she could look at things and what other alternative ways to get the work done more efficiently.”

Redinger and Gering spent Monday speaking with central office staff about the changes.

“Change is difficult for different people,” Gering said. “But we made it clear this wasn’t about performance. Some of the conversations have been really positive, so they are energized.”

He added, “There are a number of people who are excited about going back into the classroom.”

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