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District looks to restructure top management

By Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 24, 2013 09:50 AM

[Updated, 2:12 p.m. with full text of email]

While it is trying to cope with its fiscal Armageddon, which includes plans to cut by 30 percent its already depleted central office staff, the School District is also seeking to restructure its top management and is advertising nationally for new personnel.

An internal email from Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn to senior staff was obtained by the Notebook and NewsWorks. In it, Kihn explains that everyone will be required to reapply for their present jobs and announces that the District is seeking people to fill new roles. These include a chief schools officer, as well as several assistant superintendents and deputies.  

The reason for the reorganization, said Kihn in an interview, is to build an administrative infrastructure to focus on academics and curriculum. He said that this is more necessary than ever in this time of unprecedented austerity.

“These are different jobs, not new jobs,” he said. “We’re trying to build an organization that allows us to build on our ambitious goal of improving academic outcomes for all students and do it in a fiscally responsible way. We want to build the team we need based on what we’re trying to do.”

Will it be possible to improve academics with larger classes and skeleton staffs in schools, as might happen if the District doesn’t get the financial help that it wants from Harrisburg, City Hall, and the teachers’ union?

“It’s not our aspiration to have larger classes and skeleton staff, but we are preparing our overall workforce, senior team, and our school-based teams to do more with less,” he said. He described this as “potentially the reality for a lot of schools if we don’t manage to close the budget gap, which we’re working hard to do.”

But the circumstances, said Kihn, make it "even more critical for us to have the right organizational structure that is exactly aligned to the goals we want to accomplish.”

In the memo, described by Kihn as a “confidential note to the senior academic team,” and reproduced below, he writes: 

Dear Colleagues -

I am writing to thank you for all of the hard work you do every day on behalf of our students, and to let you know that we are launching the restructuring of our Academic departments per my conversations with you over the past several weeks.  This restructuring will take place over the coming months, and will result in an organization that best meets the ambitious agenda of the Superintendent and the new administration.  The new organization will build on all of the work you have developed and supported and sustained over the past several years, and will simplify and clarify roles.  In addition, we will undertake all changes in a budget neutral way.

As we have said, given the critical importance of the work, we are asking all staff to "reapply" for a role. Many of you have indicated you would like to remain in your current role or move to a new role; this process will formalize those requests. In all cases Dr. Hite and I will meet with you to understand your own professional goals, how the organization can help you to meet those goals, where you would most like to be over the coming year and beyond, and what the best fit is within the transformed organization that we believe we need to achieve our collective goals for our students. We anticipate these meetings will occur over the next 3-4 weeks.

The email continues, describing the new positions and announcing several personnel changes.

“To this end, we are undertaking the following:

1.  This week we are launching a search for the following roles:
-- Chief Schools Officer.  This Chief will oversee the work of the Assistant Superintendents who manage district-managed schools, Alternative Schools, Turnaround Schools and New School Models.  This person will be an expert in principal development, schools and school design.
-- Chief of Academic Supports.  This Chief will oversee the offices that provide Academic support to schools, including Curriculum, Assessment, Specialized Services, Multilingual Programs, Early Childhood Education, and Career and Technical Education.
-- Assistant Superintendents.  These professionals will continue to oversee clusters of schools, with primary responsibilities for developing principals.
-- Deputy for Curriculum.  This Deputy will oversee the ongoing development and implementation of the Common Core in all schools, work to ensure an integrated and aligned curriculum, and continue the strong implementation of RTII.
-- Deputy for Assessment.  This Deputy will oversee the strategy and logistics of assessments in all our schools and programs.
-- Deputy for Teacher Effectiveness. This person will report to the Chief Talent Officer, and will oversee the recruiting, placement, development, professional growth, and evaluation of teachers.
-- Deputy for Principal Effectiveness.  This Deputy will report to the Chief Talent Officer, and will work alongside Assistant Superintendents to oversee the recruiting, placement, development, professional growth, and evaluation of principals.

2.  We are announcing the following organizational changes:
-- As of May 1, Kim Caputo will assume the role of Deputy for the Office of Specialized Services, reporting to the Chief of Academic Supports.
-- As of May 1, Rosemary Hughes will assume the role of Deputy of Strategic Analytics, reporting to the Chief Information Officer.
-- As of May 1, Tonya Wolford will assume the role of Deputy for Research and Evaluation, reporting to the Chief Information Officer.

Thank you for your continued commitment and your patience as we work through this transition, and please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions.  I will look forward to speaking with you individually about next steps.



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Comments (23)

Submitted by Gtown_Teach (not verified) on April 24, 2013 11:20 am
Kihn should have to reapply for his job as well.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 12:33 pm
The SD is going to focus upon academics and instruction while cutting counselors and secretaries and eliminating roster chairs, vice principals and decimating school budgets? Those who question might ask about Mr. Kihn's credentials. And where are all t hose community providers who are supposed to come out of the woodwork at the sound of Karen Lynch's voice? Who is going to oversee the combination of diverse school populations in one school?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 12:19 pm
I have met and talked with Paul Kihn and found him extremely bright and dedicated. Give him your support and some time.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 12:43 pm
Give him a break to do what? Have you seen the school budgets? It will be impossible to run a school with the budgets the principals were given. How many businesses can run without a secretary? Who is going to schedule classes? Who will deal with discipline problems? There is room for anyone in a school to deal with any sort of problems. One can be bright and dedicated and have a skewed vision about reality. How much money is being spent to do all of this reorganization? How many people are being flown in from other cities for interviews? Is our city that lacking in educational expertise? September will be a disaster. IF you called up Mr. Kihn and Karen Lynch and asked them for specifics, sadly, I bet there are none and it's almost May. So, the SD completely re-organizes in May -June with outsiders who know nothing about Philadelphia and think they'll have a working administration who are capable of planning a massive shifting of resources in September and it's all going to work? That doesn't sound very bright to me
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 1:07 pm
I have to be honest--having done work with several school districts, it might be good if "outsiders who know nothing about Philly" are brought it. Many colleagues from other district think I'm making up stories when I talk about some of the stuff that happens in the SDP. It's sad to say, but I'm not really sure that a bunch of new people scrambling at the last minute would be much worse than the status quo over the past 5 years or so.
Submitted by Fighting For Public Ed (not verified) on April 24, 2013 4:17 pm
Most people in the top positions over the last ten years have been from outside the SDP, and look how screwed up we are.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 1:45 pm
Hi, Paul! How are you?
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 2:16 pm
Kihn advocated for and approved the renewal of World Communications Charter High School - a fiscally irresponsible / criminally liable, very "underperforming" school. He has had inadequate answers at SRC meetings. He was brought to Philadelphia to dismantle the School District.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on April 24, 2013 8:24 pm
He was brought to finish what Ackerman started. He deserves no respect at all. Hite is simply following the script to privatize everything to keep the corporations happy. He wouldn't even be here if he were trying to create a positive environment for ALL the kids and he'd be gone in a flash if he double crossed his puppet masters. He has Manchurian Candidate written all over him. He has no answers if the questions are off the script.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 1:15 pm
Honestly, this seems like a reasonable move. Rather than bringing in a bunch of new people right at the beginning, Dr. Hite has taken a bit of time to figure out what was positions he actually needs before moving forward.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 1:52 pm
Why, Dr. Hite! You read The Notebook, too?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 1:57 pm
Really? Schools are closing, school populations merging, significant numbers of support staff are being laid off, class size is increasing, and he changes his entire administrative staff before he has any plans in place for September? May 1 is next week. Seems like the city is not getting its money worth. People will be doing jobs they never did before in an unfamiliar place in the middle of the biggest reorganization in the city's history. And Kihn thinks the SD will be able to focus upon academics and instruction? Staff will be doing nothing but putting our the fires that he allowed to be set b/c of his poor planning. I have a test. List the steps that will be taken to ensure the success at Penn Treaty and Leeds. Ask Karen Lynch to provide a list of community people who are going to ensure the safety of the children who will now travel great distances to school. Let's see the plans.
Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on April 24, 2013 1:21 pm
So current administrators are allowed to advocate for their positions while teachers with decades of service get a 24% pay cut?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 1:07 pm
This is the classic move of shifting the chairs on the Titanic. In this case just before hitting the iceberg.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 3:47 pm
Why are these job postings not all on the SDP website?
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on April 24, 2013 4:36 pm
The real deal here is that the corporate reformers will oust those folks who care about ALL the kids. Jerry?? Jerry??
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 4:29 pm
What about the Deputy of The Office of Early Childhood?
Submitted by Urban Educator (not verified) on April 24, 2013 6:33 pm
I love it!!! The notebook always gets the scoop & the real deal way before The Inquirer or Daily News. That email is such a gem. The SDP is way too top heavy, get rid of some of the administrative fat. Really how many deputies do you need? There's probably even a Deputy Chief of Folding Paper at 440. Hiring from the outside may just be what the district needs.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 10:33 pm
P.K. was extremely upset that the email/memo got leaked to The Notebook..
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2013 12:04 am
The philadelphia School s are no more then organized crime the principals cheat / Incident reports not called in One big mess of Child abuse and Fraud.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2013 6:38 am
It appears that Dr. Hite is requesting and insisting that schools "do without" but isn't willing to make similar sacrifices. If you are cutting schools to the bare bones, why not Central Office? Are Central Office Special Assistants needed if schools have no secretaries? Are Grant Compliance Managers needed if Title I money is cut and supplement versus supplant is so strict that you can't make purchases? Are numerous secretaries in Penny's former office needed? Schools are to vote to increase class sizes yet raises will come with new promotions effective May 1st. The picture is clear. Dr. Hite is asking for hard sacrifices but is not willing to make them himself.
Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on April 25, 2013 6:29 am
Let Central Office go without photocopiers, paper, toilet paper, air conditioning, etc. Let them see the reality of schools. Ask them to spent $500 - $1000 / year just to have basic needs met in a classroom.
Submitted by ANON 452 (not verified) on April 25, 2013 7:31 am
Yes, turn off the heat and air-conditioning at 440 to save those bills. Tell all employees they will need to bring in all personal paper supplies they need. And, WHY does 440 still have NUMEROUS School Police Officers when most school have none? Let one officer stay to watch the door and put ALL others back in schools. AN, let the top salary at 440 for admins be the same as the top teacher's salary!

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