Thursday, September 22, 2011

Too Big To Succeed

The DeKalb County School System is simply too big to succeed:
  • A huge budget allows significant graft to get lost in the fine print
  • It is so large, by any measure, that finding a superintendent from an equivalent system is nearly impossible
  • Based on their website they have seven administration positions from Principal to Superintendent, and this does not include the made-up position of "Assistant Superintendent" of which there are at least five
  • The system is divided into five regions each headed by one of these "Assistant Superintendents"
And there-in lies a solution: break DCSS into five separate school systems, each with its own school board and superintendent. Of course there are other structural and organizational changes to be made:
  • School board is limited to three members, with one being elected each year by elections held at each school on the last day of the school year
  • Board meetings are held at district High Schools, rotating with each meeting
  • All board members are "at-large" and subject to voter approval from across the district
  • Board chair is a rotating position held by the board member in their third year, falling to the next most senior in the unusual case of no third-year board member
  • All board decisions must result from a unanimous vote, with a quorum of three
  • Eliminate, even if by phasing out over a five year period, defined benefit retirement programs for all employees
That should take care of the school board.  Central office administration is next:
  • The superintendent's office is located in a trailer and rotates on an annual basis amongst the High Schools in the district
  • High School principals report directly to the superintendent
  • Middle School and Elementary School principals report to the HS principal whose school they feed
  • Curriculum is handled by a central office staff of one, directed to coordinate in-the-field curriculum assistants
  • Curriculum assistants are in each school
  • HR is handled by an outside organization, including stack-ranking personnel and dealing with outplacement and remediation plans
  • Currently in-sourced support services are outsourced, including fleet management and contract administration
Staying away from "just how (un)qualified are classroom teachers", there is still much to do at the school level.
  • Eliminate "School Resource Officers", they are cops by another name, so just call the cops--let them contact the parents
  • Contract for janitorial and facility management services
  • Contract for cafeteria services
  • In fact, contract for everything but teaching
These changes will result in smaller, more manageable and more transparent systems, and best of all...this will create four new positions for aspiring superintendents of failing one-high-school districts who want a promotion and a relo.