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AISD superintendent eliminates top positions

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 by Courtney Griffin

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Austin Independent School District Superintendent Paul Cruz has said that his vision is to “create an effective and streamlined organization that does not duplicate programs and services” during his time in the captain’s chair.

That’s one of the reasons he decided to eliminate 11 of the district’s top administrative positions and reshuffle department responsibilities for the 2015-2016 school year, he said.

The administrative decision was made in June – ahead of AISD’s final budget, which is due in August – but staff did not implement the change until this month. The new structure will result in a total net loss of three top executive positions.

“I formed my idea for the reorganization throughout my time as superintendent,” Cruz wrote in an email to the Austin Monitor. “I also want to increase collaboration and integration between departments to fill needs that are unaddressed and/or unmet.”

The reorganized departments and the merged and eliminated positions will result in cost savings of $801,412 for the district, according to Cruz.

The savings, however, will not take full effect until 2017. The majority of employees whose positions were eliminated signed three-year contracts and will enter their second contracted year in the 2015-2016 school year.

“The district will honor those contracts through the duration,” Cruz told the Monitor. “But come July 1, when the reorg(anization) is instituted, those individuals will have alternate duties that are in accordance with the new structure.”

In the 2014-2015 school year, AISD employed six chief officers. Cruz eliminated four: the chief academics officer, the chief operations officer, the chief of staff officer and the chief of schools officer.

In the upcoming 2015-2016 school year, Cruz will merge the chief academics officer and school officer positions into a single position: the chief teaching and learning officer. By merging the positions’ responsibilities, Cruz was also able to eliminate an associate superintendent of academics position as well.

All of AISD’s associate superintendents for its elementary, middle and high schools will answer to the new chief teaching and learning officer. Many of the district’s special program directors – formerly overseen by the chief academic officer – will also answer to the new position. Big-ticket special programs include special education services and English-language acquisition programs.

In addition, Cruz will take over many of the departments formerly overseen by the chief of staff. The communications, public information and customer service departments will answer directly to Cruz, while AISD’s legal and intergovernmental services, also formerly under the chief of staff, will largely regulate itself.

In addition, the district’s technology department will answer directly to the superintendent. Previously, it reported to Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley.

Conley will now oversee operations in addition to her other responsibilities. The chief operation officer’s seven-person department, which mainly includes facilities, transportation and food services, had five of its members shifted to Conley’s purview. Additionally, the positions of construction manager director and maintenance director have been merged into a single construction management executive director position.

AISD’s police department – formerly placed under the chief of operations – will also answer to the chief of human capital officer.

To offset the shift in responsibilities, Conley will no longer manage the accountability and assessment department, which will be managed by the chief of human capital officer.

The reorganized structure of AISD's top management for the 2015-2016 school year.

The reorganized structure of AISD’s top management for the 2015-2016 school year.

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