Yet Another Reorganization of New York City's Public Schools
BY CLARA HEMPHILL, CENTER FOR NEW YORK CITY AFFAIRS SENIOR EDITOR
JANUARY 22 , 2010 —Schools chancellor Joel Klein summoned 70 school administrators, called "network leaders," to the central office of the Department of Education on Friday, January 22, 2010, to announce his third reorganization of the administrative structure since he took over the city's schools in 2002. The latest reorganization will further reduce middle management in the school system, shrinking the workforce by 80 positions for an estimated annual savings of $13 million, according to the DOE. These maps show the evolution of the school system under Klein.
In 2003, Klein combined the city's 32 school districts into 10 regions in an attempt to improve the quality of instruction.
He combined strong districts with weak ones, standardized staff development, and instituted a citywide curriculum for reading and math. Operations—budget, payroll, food services and transportation—were handled separately by newly established Regional Operations Centers or ROCS.
In 2007, Klein changed course. He disbanded the regions and devolved power to principals, giving them more authority over budget, curriculum and hiring decisions in exchange for "accountability," as measured by certain benchmarks on standardized tests. Superintendents no longer supervised principals on a day-to-day basis, but evaluated them annually based on data such as growth in test scores. Principals were asked to choose a "network leader" who functions as a coach or mentor. These networks were not geographically based, and networks typically had schools in three, four or even five boroughs. The networks worked under the supervision of "school support organizations," some of which were operated by the DOE and some of which were operated by not-for-profit organizations such as New Visions for Public Schools. Some school support organizations offered help improving instruction, while others focused on support for operations such as budget.
Core functions such as food services, transportation, youth development and legal work were carried out by Integrated Service Centers, which replaced the ROCs. However, the DOE recently began experimenting with a network approach to delivering these services as well. The initiative, called Children First Networks, combined support for instruction with operational support in one group, ostensibly offering principals support that was more personalized and school-based.
On January 22, the DOE told principals that it would reorganize the school system once again, eliminating the School Support Organizations and the Integrated Service Centers that had been created in 2007 and expanding the Children First Networks to serve the entire system. The Children First Networks offer service that is similar to that provided by the old districts and combine instructional support with "operations" such as payroll, human resources, legal services, food and transportation. However, unlike the districts, the Children First Networks are not defined by geography. Many networks currently have schools in three or more boroughs. The transition to these mini-district-like structures will take place in the summer of 2010, when the Integrated Service Centers will close and the number of networks will shrink from 71 to 60, according to the DOE.