Denver Public Schools is cutting approximately 110 positions and adding several dozen new roles to its central office as part of a restructuring officials say is aimed at shifting more resources and expertise to schools.
Alyssa Whitehead-Bust, the district’s chief academic and innovation officer, said the changes are part of an effort to meet the goals of the Denver Plan 2020 and to educate teachers about how to teach using the Common Core State Standards. Most of the changes are in the departments Whitehead-Bust oversees.
The restructuring is coming in advance of the district’s new academic strategic plan, which will be released later this spring.
Some of the changes related to this restructuring, including an expansion of the district’s teacher-leadership program and cuts to its peer observer team, were announced earlier this year.
“As you push more expertise in the schools, it begs the question of what’s changing in the central team,” Whitehead-Bust said. “You now want to make sure your district roles are aligned to schools and leaders’ specific needs.”
Some of the changes:
- The Office of School Reform and Innovation, known as OSRI, will be divided into two separate departments. An Innovation and Strategy department will develop and support new schools and programs like blended learning, and a Portfolio office will focus on managing charter schools.
- The district is cutting its “curriculum coordinator role” and replacing it with two or three dozen “content specialists.” Content specialists will spend 80 percent of their time in schools, while curriculum coordinators were largely based in the central office.
- The district is cutting its Collaborative Strategies for Reading team, a federally-funded group of 25 who led a reading program. The federal grant that supported the team is coming to an end, and Whitehead-Bust said the district had determined that it was not getting the results it had hoped for from the program. She said some components of the training will be continued.
- The district is reducing the size of its teacher effectiveness coaching team from 72 to 54. Whitehead-Bust said some of the mentoring, coaching, and evaluating components of this job would be filled by teacher leaders. The district is also cutting a half dozen “executive director” positions in the academic office.
Whitehead-Bust said that she was unable to say exactly what the ultimate budget impact would be. She said the end of several grants means that the central office would be “leaner” next year. The district’s school board will vote on a budget later this spring.
Nine director-level positions on the new organization chart are listed as vacant, including the deputy chief of academics, who oversees curriculum and instruction and professional learning teams, and executive director of portfolio management, who oversees the new team focused on charter schools.
In an email to teachers and school leaders, Whitehead-Bust and Chief Schools Officer Susana Cordova said that the changes were partly prompted by feedback from teachers and a report from the Council of Great City Schools that said the district was not doing enough to prepare its teachers for new academic standards.
The email says the district is focusing on making sure teachers are more equipped with curricular resources that are aligned to the standards; on making sure support staff can help teachers with standards alignment; and making sure district professional development is aligned to standards.