As one of his first actions as the new superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, Dr. Nikolai Vitti completed the district’s first reorganization. The reorganization is designed to increase support for schools in order to improve student achievement.
The process focused on several key priorities of the superintendent, including the shifting of more resources to schools from the district office; addressing the vacancy challenge; eliminating bureaucracy that slowed support to schools; revamping positions and personnel connected to curriculum and instruction and school improvement; and establishing a new team of district leaders with a track record of success in urban school districts.
“We must create a new culture at the district that is committed to directly supporting schools, which means principals and teachers,” said Dr. Vitti. “After listening to internal and external stakeholders, namely principals and teachers, it was clear that we needed to develop new systems and processes that are led by district leaders who have a sense of urgency about ensuring that the best service is provided to schools. This has not been occurring with consistency.”
The reorganization will generate more than $5 million of revenue, which will be provided to schools to improve technology access, programming, and teacher and principal professional development.
The move eliminates more than 60 Instructional Specialists positions within central office, which are filled by certified teachers on special assignment. “We must ensure that the district’s organization structure does not exacerbate our teacher vacancy challenges. Every one of our students deserves to have a fully certified teacher from the first day of school to the last day,” said Dr. Vitti. At the school level, principals will be empowered to keep an Instructional Specialist out of the classroom if the school is fully staffed. If not, then the Specialist will fill a classroom vacancy.
At the district level, dozens of administrative positions will be eliminated to increase accountability with greater ownership of responsibilities tied to specific departments and individuals rather than duplicative roles and functions. Before the superintendent’s entry, the newly elected School Board facilitated the process of issuing non-renewals to district administrators to allow the incoming superintendent to reshape central office. Mid-level management structures, such as the “Network” structure, will be eliminated to improve the flow of information and support from central office to schools. Departments associated with curriculum and instruction, professional development, and teacher and principal development will be revamped to improve quality and improve academic performance.
Newly created and vacant district positions will be filled by retained leaders at the district, recruits nationally and from areas where the superintendent has led reform, while other positions will be advertised to promote open competition internally and externally.