Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata proposed today creating a new position responsible for overseeing student performance and putting student assignment under the control of a new office.
Tata’s call for a shakeup of his senior leadership team came after the presentation of a consultant’s report that found that Wake’s administrative structure was lean but needs more focus placed on improving student academic performance.
“(Superintendent Tony Tata) needs to have one person identified as the go to person in student performance,” said Robert Schiller, the head of the audit team.
Under the restructuring plan, Tata wants to create a new position called deputy superintendent for school performance. The school district’s chief academic officer and area superintendents would report to the new person.
Donna Hargens, Wake’s chief academic officer, is a finalist for the superintendent’s position in Jefferson County in Kentucky, which includes Louisville.
Tata also plans to create a new position of chief transformation officer. Several departments would report to the new position, including student assignment, long-range planning and professional development.
Tata said the fact that he had to draft administrators from several different departments to create the task force that developed the two student assignment plans now under review shows that Wake doesn’t have the ability now to think strategically.
Student assignment is currently one of the areas overseen by Don Haydon, chief facilities and operations officer. After the change, he’d still be in charge of child nutrition, transportation and facilities.
The restructuring was the result of an audit done by the Broad Superintendents Academy, the California-based group that trains non-educators like Tata, a retired Army general, to work in urban school districts. Broad is conducting three free audits for Tata.
Schiller said during today’s presentation that the lack of one person overseeing student performance was a problem.
“Your chief academic officer and area superintendents all work very hard but who ultimately is responsible for performance?” Schiller said.
But Schiller repeatedly said how impressed he was by the organizational structure of the district. He said that Wake is very lean compared to school districts of its size.
“You are a highly respected school system,” Schiller said. “You are a very good school system.”
School board member Kevin Hill said the audit should answer those who feel that Wake has too much fat.
“You’ve validated what we’ve felt for many years that we’re lean, we’re efficient and we’re very good,” Hill said. “There have been too many detractors in recent years.”