This story is developing and will be updated.
Jefferson County Public Schools has a “wealth of talent,” but its central office suffers from an organizational structure that is “both redundant and incoherent,” according to a new report.
The report, commissioned by the district, found widespread dysfunction in how the district’s various departments communicate and work with each other. It also found that some critical jobs were nonexistent or lacked clearly defined responsibilities.
“Having the right people, in the right position, with the right skill sets, is not always the priority,” the report said.
The findings come as the school district faces scrutiny from multiple fronts. In January, Gov. Matt Bevin criticized the district for having a bloated bureaucracy, while a group of Louisville’s business and civic leaders has called for a leadership overhaul.
Marty Pollio, named superintendent last month, said he will call for major changes to the district’s central office based on the report’s findings.
“There are many areas where I think we need to improve in our support for schools,” Pollio told Courier Journal on Monday.
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Pollio will ask board members to approve a plan to reconfigure several senior-level positions — a move that would require some district administrators to re-apply for their jobs.
“These are not recommendations that I just came up with on my own,” Pollio said, noting that the proposed changes are based on recommendations from the Council of the Great City Schools, an organization of the nation’s largest urban school systems.
Representatives from the council — including senior officials from Dallas, Los Angeles and Miami public schools — visited JCPS about two months ago. They were there at the district’s request to take a critical look at how JCPS is organized, Pollio said.
Over four days, the officials interviewed central office staff and combed through the district’s organizational charts.
In its 56-page report, the council identified dozens of “misalignments” in how the district is structured.
“Over time, the district appears to have attempted to solve problems by adding staff with similar responsibilities to multiple departments or by allowing people who did not want to work together to avoid it,” the report said.
“The result was not only higher staffing levels, but difficulty in coordinating work, silo-like behavior, and the lack of a common purpose.”
The report also noted that the district lacked several positions that are found in other large urban districts, such as a chief of staff for the superintendent’s office and an in-house legal department.
Under the changes proposed by Pollio, the district would eliminate 11 vacant jobs, while adding and restructuring others. The changes would result in about $14,000 in yearly savings, according to the district.
As a part of the overhaul, the district would create a new position called “chief of schools.”
According to the job description, the chief of schools will focus on “transforming schools … with particular attention to the achievement and opportunity gap.”
Whoever lands the position would report directly to Pollio and would oversee five assistant superintendents who currently support schools largely based on geographic zones. Under the new plan, those assistant superintendents would focus their support on either elementary, middle or high schools.
The shakeup would also create an assistant superintendent in charge of “culture and climate” across the district.
Pollio said the changes would enable district staff to do more “boots-on-the-ground type work.”
Currently, JCPS assistant superintendents are responsible for overseeing and evaluating about 27 schools each. Under the new setup, they would be responsible for just 15 schools each, Pollio said.
“Twenty-seven is a lot to provide effective feedback, oversight and to be in schools,” he said, adding that the changes will result in “more support for teachers and kids.”
The proposed reorganization comes as the district awaits the results of a top-to-bottom management audit by the Kentucky Department of Education. That audit, which began more than a year ago, could result in the state taking control of the 101,000-student district.
Some of the changes would fall in line with how the district was run in the past.
For example, the plan includes hiring an in-house general counsel. That position was on the JCPS payroll until 2015 when — under former Superintendent Donna Hargens — the district chose to outsource its legal needs.
The plan would also eliminate the position of chief business officer, a cabinet position created under Hargens. The position has gone unfilled since the district chose not to renew former Chief Business Officer Tom Hudson’s contract last spring. Hudson, who served in the role for about a year and a half, has since become a vocal critic of JCPS.
On Tuesday night, school board members will consider new job descriptions related to the shakeup.
Two of the new job descriptions would result in pay increases for Chief Equity Officer John Marshall and Chief Communications and Community Relations Officer Allison Martin. The proposed changes would put Marshall and Martin at the same pay grade as other JCPS cabinet positions.
Mandy McLaren: 502-582-4525; email@example.com; Twitter: @mandy_mclaren. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/mandym.