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D.C. To Shift 73 From Administrative Posts

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The District of Columbia schools superintendent, facing a central-office staff criticized by community leaders as "top-heavy" and cumbersome, has transferred 73 administrators and said up to 218 positions could be eliminated by January.

District school officials said it was the largest administrative shakeup in the system since 1972, when steep enrollment declines prompted staff reductions.

Some administrators will become principals when schools open this week, while others will work in school buildings to help develop enrichment programs. Several reassigned administrators were sent to 16 schools selected for a pilot program in school-based management.

Superintendent Andrew E. Jenkins 3rd, a long-time district administrator and head of the system since July 1988, said in a statement that the latest effort is a "a painful but necessary process."

Marcia Derricotte, executive assistant to Mr. Jenkins, said, "The purpose is to place the resources at the local school level. The school system is moving toward school-based management and we want to put our best resources there."

Other phases include eliminating temporary positions, abolishing positions now vacant, anticipating retirements, and establishing a proposed early-retirement plan for administrators that requires approval by the city council.

In addition to the 73 officials transferred, there are 53 temporary posts, 77 vacant jobs, and 88 administrators currently eligible to retire, Ms. Derricotte said.

She stressed that officials are not sure how many posts will be eliminated. Officials do not know how many administrators will retire or how many will qualify for the early-retirement program, should it be approved by the city council. The district also does not have estimates on cost savings on the program; these may be complete by next January, Ms. Derricotte said.

Mr. Jenkins's plan echoed recommendations from the D.C.Public Education Committee, a panel of civic leaders that criticized the district's central-office staff for being top heavy. The panel suggested elimi8nating 100 positions by next summer and a total of 400 administrative posts within five years.

Ms. Derricotte said that although the committee's plan was used as a guide, Mr. Jenkins's plan to downsize the administration had been under consideration for several months.

Frank Bolden, president of the Council of School Officers Local No. 4, which represents approximately 500 school employees, said last week that none of the transferred administrators has thus far asked the union to challenge the plan.

Mr. Bolden said he believes some parts of the plan "really are reduction-in-force procedures under the guise of downsizing." The union, he said, is waiting to see what happens.

Gary Marx, a spokesman for the American Association of School Administrators, said districts considering such reductions should be careful. New York City, Chicago, and Detroit are among the urban districts currently reducing administrative staff.

"It needs to receive the most serious consideration and not just be done for political purposes," said Mr. Marx.--nm

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