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Shumate shakes up the administration

Medford schools Superintendent Brian Shumate announced Tuesday his plans to implement sweeping changes to the district’s administration, including growing his cabinet, establishing new positions and redefining old ones.

The Medford School Board unanimously approved the new hierarchy at Tuesday’s board meeting but decided to wait to vote on the proposed salary schedule until the January 26 meeting to give members time to thoroughly evaluate it and hear public comment. 

“I think the organization chart is sound,” said board Chairman Jeff Thomas after the meeting. “Ultimately, we hired the superintendent to make changes in the district, and we need to support the way he organizes it if we expect him to be accountable for the outcomes.”

The reorganization, effective July 1, is the new superintendent’s most dramatic undertaking since he began the job about seven months ago. It calls for the addition of three new positions (chief academic officer, chief operations officer, and director of athletics and staff and student safety), the elimination of two positions (chief financial officer and supervisor of curriculum and assessment) and the modification of three positions (director of special education, director of elementary student achievement and director of secondary student achievement). His cabinet also will include six rather than four administrators.

Shumate said the new structure is designed to improve efficiency in the district’s central office, provide more direct support to principals and advance his vision for an 80 percent graduation rate by 2017.

“I think folks are scrambling to keep their heads above water every day, and to implement the innovative things I want to accomplish, it will take additional staff,” he said in his pitch to the board.

Last spring, the School Board budgeted $300,000 for the incoming superintendent to execute his vision for the district, and Shumate estimated these changes would cost about $230,000.

The chief academic officer and chief operations officer will work directly under Shumate and absorb some of the responsibilities currently held by the directors of elementary and secondary education and the CFO. The officers would make between $128,000 and $136,000 based on a 12-month or 261-day contract.

“I want two generals that can run the district if I get hit by a bus,” Shumate said.

The chief academic officer would oversee the district’s 19 principals, as well as its directors of special education, elementary student achievement and secondary student achievement, and be responsible for collecting data, carrying out board policies, working with the union and preparing for board meetings.

Meanwhile, the chief operation officer “keeps everything up and running” and will handle everything related to finance, facilities, information technology and human resources, Shumate said. He or she also will supervise the director of human resources, the director of athletics and staff and student safety, and the managers in several other departments.

The directors of elementary education and secondary education will have fewer responsibilities and their salaries will be adjusted accordingly. As of July 1, the directors' starting and ending salaries would be $107,362 and $112,203, compared with their current salary schedule of $113,107 to $118,207.

“The directors will be freed from administrative functions so they can get directly into classrooms and work directly with principals to improve instructional programs,” Shumate said.

The directors, he added, will be focused on student achievement, specifically curriculum, assessment, professional development and interventions, among other things.

The director of special education's contract will be revised to reflect a 261-day rather than 220-day position.

Julie Evans, Todd Bloomquist, Debbie Connolly, Brad Earl, Tania Tong and others whose positions will be affected were notified of the proposed changes during the first week of January.

“This is a sweeping change that won’t be comfortable for everyone,” said board member Sally Killen after Tuesday’s meeting. “We hired Dr. Shumate to create a team that can make the changes we see necessary in the district, and we see this as giving him the opportunity to create that team. Do I think it’s wonderful for every individual affected by the organization chart? No. But I think it’s something we need to do to support his efforts.”

Shumate declined to comment on whether the affected employees would have to reapply for the new positions but said the district would be advertising for some of the positions in the next few weeks.

“We are changing the nature of positions, the salary structures slightly, and we will go through the process of altering future contracts and fulfilling current contracts,” he said.

Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.

Superintendent Brian Shumate announced his plan to reorganize the Medford School District administration on Tuesday. He says the changes will improve efficiency and will cost the district about $230,000. Shumate joined the district last spring. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell