Reorganization Under Way in City Schools

… Positions of 89 employees will be eliminated, school support broadened …

By Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun

7:17 PM EDT, May 4, 2011

The Baltimore school system is proposing to eliminate almost 100 central office jobs and increase the number of school support staff as part of the third reorganization in four years ordered by city schools CEO Andrés Alonso.

About 89 central office employees were notified last week that their positions will be eliminated on June 30, as Alonso carries out a plan he announced in February to expand job descriptions for city school administrators. The school system will also increase the number of central office staff who provide support to schools in “networks,” from 50 to 169 full-time positions.

“The impact on the schools should be an increased level and integration of support from the district office, and greater clarity about who at the district is responsible for helping the schools in each network succeed,” the school system said in a statement.

School officials said that more information about what departments would be affected and the new proposed organizational chart would be revealed at a city school board meeting May 10. The school system’s fiscal year 2012 budget will also be released at that meeting.

When Alonso announced earlier this year that the central office would undergo another shakeup, he said it was not a cost-saving measure and didn’t know if people would lose their jobs.

But city schools officials said Wednesday that after reviewing the needs of the system, they identified 89 employees who, after a satisfactory evaluation, can enter a pool and vie for a new position, or leave the system. A $3.5 million cut to nonpersonnel costs has also helped the school system close a budget gap, officials said.

Alonso said when the reorganization was announced that it was an attempt to continue chipping away at an outdated “command and control” central office model and push more resources to schools. His administration has seen the central office shrink from 1,500 employees to 992.

But this year, the school system added nine full-time positions, school officials said, bringing the total number of central office positions to 1,001. That number is not expected to change.

Jimmy Gittings, president of the city administrators union, which represents about 100 central office employees, said his initial concerns were quelled by the recently ratified union contract.

“I’m very curious to see what [the organizational chart] looks like,” Gittings said. “But we made sure we were protected.”

Copyright © 2011, The Baltimore Sun

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