By Terry Dean
District 97's administrative ranks will look significantly different come next school year. As promised by Supt. Al Roberts, the district's administration will receive an overhaul, including hiring staff in newly-minted administrative posts and reclassifying existing positions.
The changes mainly impact the instructional department. Most notable is the creation of a deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction position. This would be a return of sorts to the previous assistant superintendent post for the department that was eliminated in 2011.
Two director posts for curriculum and instruction are also being created, each overseeing the middle schools and the elementary schools. This, too, is a return of positions previously eliminated in the last four years. Currently, the director of teaching and learning oversees the department but that post will be eliminated.
The reclassifications include Mike Padavic, director of special education, who will become senior director of special services. Padavic's assistant director, Regina MacAskill, will become director of special education — the assistant director position is being eliminated.
Some administrators will go by the new title of "senior director."
Roberts said the administrative overhaul is needed, in part, to relieve stresses on current staff who have been overworked. Staff, he noted, also favored changes.
"I think this organization brings us back to a full complement," Roberts said. "When I arrived, we cut staff fairly dramatically and we've gotten through it, I think, relatively well, but it's time to plan for the future. I think these positions will put us in a much better position, not only relative to evaluations but relative to enhancing the kind of work we've done with curriculum development."
The new curriculum officers will also greatly help with conducted administrative evaluations, Roberts added.
"All those folks will need to be, by nature of our plan, certified evaluators. In fact, the directors will have direct responsibility for some of the principals. The deputy superintendent and I will also be picking up on administrative evaluations where needed, so this gives us a little more ability to meet the increasing demands of evaluations."
Roberts added: "The other piece, which I think will be obvious to all staff members, is that we're responding to concerns that we've been over-burdened with curriculum work in a time of Common Core and so forth."
The new administrative structure was approved by the District 97 Board of Education on June 10, and the new positions and job descriptions have been posted, Roberts said.