City School District's Administration to Undergo Another Reorganization
Sunday, July 8, 2012 • 8:29pm
PATERSON, NJ – For the second time in nine months, Paterson Public Schools is about to undergo a reorganization at its district headquarters.
The Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday night to discuss the changes being proposed by state-appointed superintendent Donnie Evans. Details of the plan have not been made public yet.
Board of Education President Christopher Irving said he expected the reorganization would leave the district with just two assistant superintendents. The organization chart adopted last November had five assistant superintendent positions and four of those are currently filled.
“It means the superintendent wasn’t happy with how things were working and I don’t believe the board was happy with happy with how things were working,’’ said Irving, when asked why the organization chart was being revised so soon after the last changes. “Our first time, we didn’t get it right.’’
But district spokeswoman Terry Corallo characterized the administrative changes as adjustments to what was done last year and “not a second reorganization.’’ Corallo said the proposed changes were more “more academic-based’’ and designed to “focus on student achievement.’’
Corallo said there would be some streamlining among the administrative staff at the district’s headquarters at 90 Delaware Avenue. She also said the changes would entail one new hiring at the Cabinet-level, that of a general counsel for the school district.
“I don’t know the reason why we’re doing this so frequently,’’ school board member Errol Kerr said of the reorganization. “If people are not settled in, you’re not going to get much to go on from one reorganization to the next reorganization. You can’t build a house one day and the next day knock the walls off the sides and start over. You have to have a plan.’’
“If the intention of the reorganization is to make people more effective in delivering the educational program, that’s fine,’’ said board member Jonathan Hodges. But, Hodges also expressed concern that the state education department was demanding the reorganization for fiscal reasons. “You can’t be sure what the motivation is when you have changes that seem to be rather abrupt,’’ he said. “We don’t seem to be in charge.’’
Irene Sterling, president of the Paterson Education Fund, an advocacy group, said she believed the changes were in response to the state’s demand that the district reduce its administrative staff numbers. “They’ve got to get rid of some people and that means they have to reorganize,’’ said Sterling.
Kerr said Evans should have gotten board members’ input before drafting the new chart. “I haven’t seen anything,’’ Kerr said. “We are left out in the cold. We are not being asked our opinions.’’
The futures of the district's two top-ranking officials remain in question. Evans' contract expires in August and the state has said it would let him know by the end of this month whether he would be retained.
Meanwhile, deputy superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard is a finalis for the open superintendents' positions in Albany, N.Y. and Portland, Me.