Wednesday, January 18, 2012

DOE's Stefan Pryor proposes new positions

Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor addressed the state Board of Education Wednesday, offering a new organization chart, with several new positions.
And the board unanimously approved it.
Pryor told the board that the new positions and organizational flow were in direct response to Gov. Dannel Malloy's six educational priorities. Malloy asked Pryer to prepare the groundwork for legislation that: creates more access for “high-quality early childhood education,” “authorizes the intensive interventions and enables the supports necessary to turn around” low performing school districts, “expands the availability of high-quality school models,” removes “red tape,” creates a “fair system that values skill and effectiveness over seniority and tenure” and “delivers more resources, targeted to districts with the greatest need.”
To that end, Pryor proposes creating new positions, among them a chief operating officer, to be tasked with coordinating between bureaus and across departments.
Immediately following the board's adoption of Pryor's revamped organizational structure, the commissioner proposed DOE Associate Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker for the position of chief operating officer, a proposal that drew applause from the board and was unanimously approved.
Pryor also proposes creating a new chief talent officer, a chief turnaround officer and a chief performance officer. 
The chief turnaround officer's job will be to "think all day" about how to help under-performing school districts, Pryor said.
"The majority of superintendents said we were not helping to close the achievement gap," Pryor told the board. "That has to change.
Though still a working title, the chief turnaround officer will be supported by a new bureau, called the Turnaround Team.
Also proposed is a merged certification and evaluation bureau, headed by the chief talent officer.
In total, there are nine bureaus or units being moved, two mergers and one new bureau creation — the Turnaround Team.
Pryor also said that the proposed reorganization will not cost taxpayers a dime extra.
"We are undertaking this reorganization under budget," he said.
Following Pryor's statements, board members by and large praised the organizational changes, member Stephen Wright saying that the plan went "beyond my wildest dreams."
Board member Joseph Vrabely Jr. said he in in favor of the proposals, but offered one concern.
"I like the plan, and I'm prepared to support this," Vrabely said. "But as we drive accountability, how do we measure accountability?"
Of course, it can't happen immediately. Pryor said a reorganization of this size would depend, to some degree, on the ability to find the right people for the proposed jobs.
"Implementation will require months, rather than weeks of work," he said.

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