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Johnson remakes district to support her goals

  • Blog Post by: Steve Brandt
  • September 12, 2013 - 5:33 PM

Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson has announced a new structure that reduces the number of people reporting to her and is supposed to reinforce her reorientation of the district office toward serving schools.

Johnson’s new org chart cuts the number of people reporting to her from 11 to eight, and tries to put the organization more in synch with its prime goal of raising academic accomplishments, especially among minority students.

For example, there’s a new office of student achievement, whose director will report to the district’s new chief academic officer, Susanne Griffin-Ziebart. That office will be in charge of strategies aimed at closing the district’s yawning achievement gap.

The push toward making central departments of the district better serve the needs of schools and teachers will be overseen by an office of accountability headed by Meredith Fox.  Part of its work will be to hold the more than 20 departments operating out of district headquarters accountable for how they serve schools.

The district has developed a set of key performance indicators to gauge the track record of those departments.  But unlike City Hall, which helped the district develop the indicators, the district’s system has lacked transparency. It lacks the public evaluation sessions and web posting of departmental data that City Hall uses.

One new feature will be a splitting of the district’s people functions. Richard Kreyer, who has been HR chief, will handle the labor relations side of negotiating and administering union contracts.  Maggie Sullivan, most recently responsible for the district’s teacher evaluations, will rise to the job of heading “human capital,” which means recruiting, hiring and promoting people.

Michael Goar, Johnson’s recently hired chief executive officer and de facto No. 2, said Sullivan’s job will be to carry out Johnson’s recently professed desire to promote from within.  With 80 percent of the district’s budget spent on people, it’s imperative that the district put more attention on investing in them, Goar said.  He specifically mentioned grooming assistant principals to lead schools, and principals to become associate superintendents who work with groups of schools.

Goar’s stamp as a high ranking administrator in three school districts is clearly on the reshuffling, He professes to be a strong believer in Johnson’s grow-your-own philosophy. Although outside hires bring new ideas, they sometimes can disrupt organizational continuity. Goar has the advantage of returning to Minneapolis schools with new perspective after working both in Memphis and Boston systems with former Minneapolis superintendent Carol Johnson.

One person emerging from the reorganization with added responsibility is Robert Doty, whose work as chief financial officer has been aimed at putting the district on a sounder financial footing, including a higher bond rating and longer-range financial horizons. He’ll be chief operating officer, and three areas that formerly reported directly to the CEO will report to Doty: finance, IT and operations.      

(Photos: Above--Bernadeia Johnson; Below--Robert Doty)     

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