In his biggest management move since coming to Harford County Public Schools, Superintendent Robert M. Tomback has planned a central office reorganization that he says will allow the school system to do more with less.
New central office positions will be added and others will be eliminated in the next school year, which Tomback said would result in a cost savings of $186,000 and a more “effective and efficient” organization.
The most notable changes are a new number two position, the Associate Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment, reporting directly to Tomback; and a new Executive Director of Middle School Performance.
The new associate superintendent position creates a layer of management between Tomback and all departments relating to instruction, including the new middle school position. The structure is new to Harford County, but not unique; large public school systems such as Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel, all have similar positions, albeit with differing titles. Notably, Tomback came to Harford from Baltimore County Public Schools.
In HCPS, the new associate superintendent position will mirror a similar organizational structure already in place for supporting services, where the chief of administration position, currently held by Joseph Licata, oversees functions such as operations, finance and human resources, and reports directly to Superintendent Tomback.
In presenting the new organization plan in late April to the Board of Education and to the public, Tomback said the associate superintendent spot would coordinate education services, with curriculum and instruction. The new middle school position, Tomback said, was created to provide the special attention needed to improve student performance.
Both new positions have been advertised, but the application deadline is listed as July 30, 2010 or until the position is filled. Speculation within HCPS is that Tomback plans to bring in his own people.
Roger Plunkett, who came to Harford County less than two years ago, will not be part of the new leadership team. Tomback’s reorganization eliminates Plunkett’s position as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. While he was invited to apply for another central office job, Plunkett also got calls from three other Maryland school systems and accepted an offer from Baltimore County Public Schools for the next school year.
Plunkett, who is close to getting his doctorate, has passion for his work and an amiable disposition. Sources say news of his departure was met with tears among some senior staff.
Plunkett was upbeat, telling The Dagger “It’s been a great experience and I’ve met many wonderful people in the community and in the schools.” Plunkett wouldn’t comment on Tomback’s plan, but said “I’m looking forward to seeing the greater community come together to develop a strategic plan for the school system.”
In addition to the announced changes on the instructional side of school management, HCPS is buzzing with rumors that some school-based positions will be phased out after the next school year and that other roles will be fortified.
Specifically, sources say that instructional facilitators, whose duties include observing and evaluating teachers, will be phased out after the next school year and that secondary level department chairs will take on teacher evaluation duties.
Teri Kranefeld, spokesperson for HCPS, told The Dagger that the roles of instructional facilitators and department chairs are currently under review.
Kranefeld also said that some secondary level teacher mentors, who observe but do not evaluate teachers, will be reassigned to fill teaching positions needed in the 2010-11 school year.
HCPS has a total of 24 instructional facilitators and 40 teacher mentors, at the elementary and secondary levels combined.
Superintendent Tomback’s official plans also call for a reorganization of supporting services, including the addition of an engineer position to serve facilities management, and planning and construction. Two project manager positions will be eliminated.
Tomback said the entire reorganization would bring together separate leadership groups “allowing us to be more coherent, more cohesive, more coordinated and more cooperative as we fulfill our mission which is to increase student achievement, to build teacher and leadership capacity, as well as to provide support services to schools in the most effective and efficient manner.”
Below is the new organizational chart for Harford County Public Schools effective July 1, 2010: