Denver Public Schools’ top boss has reshuffled his leadership team as the city’s school district moves toward rolling out its new strategic plan and after one of his top lieutenants departed for a new job.
In an email to district staff, Tom Boasberg announced Susana Cordova, formerly the district’s chief academic officer, will become the chief schools officer. Meanwhile Alyssa Whitehead-Bust, who previously oversaw the district’s innovation and reform office, will become the chief academic and innovation officer.
According to an email provided to Chalkbeat by DPS officials, Cordova will oversee all schools with the assistance of Ivan Duran, the recently minted assistant superintendent of primary schools, and Greta Martinez, who is newly appointed to assistant superintendent of post-secondary readiness.”
Martinez’s new title was previously held by Antwan Wilson. Wilson is leaving Denver to lead the Oakland Unified School District beginning July 1.
“The new structure will allow the chief schools officer to align our support, accountability, and implementation across all grade levels and all schools,” Boasberg said in his email. “By making the work of [the Office of School Reform and Innovation] in promoting innovation pilots and authorizing autonomous schools a part of the work of the chief academic and innovation officer, I am also excited about the increased opportunities to promote and share innovation and best practices across all our schools, regardless of governance type.”
Van Schoales, CEO of the education advocacy organization A+ Denver, said the announcement has promise.
“I think it’s smart and long overdue,” he said after being briefed on the transition this morning by Boasberg.
Schoales said the district’s academic and innovation offices previously worked independently of each other and weren’t aligned to provide the best support to its schools and school leaders were often getting direction from multiple central administration teams. He hope the reshuffle will change that.
“I think it potentially has big implications for the district,” he said.
The district did not immediately release new salary figures for Martinez or Whitehead-Bust.
As we have worked together to craft our revised Denver Plan this spring, I have spent much time engaging with our teams on how to best accelerate our academic improvements and close our achievement gaps. You have been clear with me about the importance of coherence and alignment across all our schools and central school-support teams in order to support our educators and share our learning as we implement the new Common Core and Colorado Academic Standards.
I am pleased to let you know that we are going to restructure some critical roles on our senior leadership team to strengthen this alignment and coherence. To achieve these goals, Susana Cordova will serve in the newly-created leadership position of Chief Schools Officer, which will oversee the support and management of all of our district-run schools. Ivan Duran has been doing an excellent job as our Assistant Superintendent in charge of our elementary schools, and he will continue in that role. I’m pleased to share that Greta Martinez has been named as our Assistant Superintendent for Post-Secondary Readiness in charge of our secondary schools. Both Ivan and Greta will be reporting to Susana.
Alyssa Whitehead-Bust will be moving to the new role of Chief Academic and Innovation Officer. Alyssa will lead all of the departments that are currently part of the Chief Academic Office. She will also continue to lead the Office of School Reform and Innovation in all its current duties, with the exception of leadership and network support for innovation schools. Leadership of the innovation schools network will move under Susana as Chief Schools Officer; and she is committed to supporting the flexibilities in their innovation plans.
The new structure will allow the Chief Schools Officer to align our support, accountability and implementation across all grade levels and all schools. By making the work of OSRI in promoting innovation pilots and authorizing autonomous schools a part of the work of the Chief Academic and Innovation Officer, I am also excited about the increased opportunities to promote and share innovation and best practices across all our schools, regardless of governance type.
We are lucky to have such talented people here in DPS and incredible leaders like Susana, Alyssa, Ivan and Greta. They are caring, accomplished, equity-driven educators who have a fierce dedication to our mission.
While the shifting of responsibilities and teams always has sensitivities and challenges, we have worked through these conversations with an overriding goal of determining the right team structures to best support success for our teachers, our school leaders and our kids.
My overriding message to you as we make this leadership shift is: Don’t wait. Lead. Please continue the excellent work you are doing. Do not pause or second guess our current plans. We are deeply committed to the work we have underway this summer and in the new school year, and the better alignment on our leadership team will help drive results for our kids.
I have great confidence that our experienced and talented school-leadership team will help us move more quickly toward our shared vision of Every Child Succeeds.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Susana Cordova.