School & District Management

N.Y.C. to Scrap Regions, Give Principals More Authority

By Catherine Gewertz — January 19, 2007 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Four years after undertaking the most profound reorganization of the New York City schools in decades, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg last week announced another round of major changes that will give principals more power, fund schools more fairly, and eliminate the administrative regions he created to slice away at bureaucracy.

In his annual State of the City address on Jan. 17, the second-term mayor, a Republican, said rising test scores and an improving graduation rate in the 1.1 million-student district signal that it’s time to expand on the first generation of reforms, which included new curricula and expanded high school options.

“During our first term, we brought stability, accountability, and standards to a school system where they were sorely lacking,” he said. “With this strong foundation now laid, we can take the next steps forward, creating great schools where all students can succeed.”

The administrative structure the mayor set up in 2003, in a bid to create what he called “one unified, focused, streamlined chain of command,” will be eliminated. City schools were divided into 10 regions, supervised by regional superintendents who oversaw 10 local superintendents, each responsible for a cluster of schools. The city will revert to a system in which 32 community superintendents oversee their schools and report directly to the chancellor.

The mayor said the regional offices had stabilized the school system and were no longer needed. But Democratic state Sen. Carl Kruger, who led a group of lawmakers in a 2003 lawsuit that halted Mr. Bloomberg’s plan to shutter the community-district offices, saw the move as an admission of defeat.

Seen as Retreat

“It’s clear he’s taking a step backward,” Mr. Kruger’s chief of staff, Jason D. Koppel, said of the mayor. “It’s clear that the [regional system] put in too many levels of bureaucracy and took parents out of the equation.”

Mayor Bloomberg said the city would expand systemwide its work to give principals more power over hiring and firing staff, controlling educational programming, and managing their schools’ budgets. Principals can have their schools join the “empowerment” initiative, receiving more authority in exchange for delivering certain performance outcomes, or they can partner with outside groups or district administrators for support in shaping their operations, according to district documents outlining the changes.

In exchange, principals will be evaluated more rigorously by their community superintendents, and their schools will get letter grades based on student performance, attendance, and parent-teacher-student feedback. Schools with higher letter grades will be eligible for bonuses; those with lower grades could be subject to intervention.

Mr. Bloomberg also focused on teacher quality, saying teachers will no longer be able to earn tenure automatically after three years. Instead, their principals will have to certify that they deserve tenure, and those decisions will be reviewed by the city department of education.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the local teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers, said Mr. Bloomberg had done nothing more than articulate what is already in the teachers’ newly approved contract.

Noting in a statement that the address was “a speech with no instructional initiatives,” Ms. Weingarten said she hopes the mayor will give some attention to pressing issues such as lowering class size, improving school safety, and giving teachers more authority to shape instruction.

Another cornerstone of the plan is to phase in a funding system that would base monetary allocations on the number and needs of each school’s students, rather than on the number and experience level of its teachers. Mr. Bloomberg intends it to narrow spending gaps between schools.

A version of this article appeared in the January 24, 2007 edition of Education Week as N.Y.C. to Scrap Regions, Give Principals More Authority

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
Future of the First Amendment:Exploring Trends in High School Students’ Views of Free Speech
Learn how educators are navigating student free speech issues and addressing controversial topics like gender and race in the classroom.
Content provided by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Schools Prefer Cheaper Ventilation Options to Curb COVID: Why They Should Consider Upgrading
Most schools are opening windows and hosting class outdoors rather than investing in costlier, more-effective measures.
2 min read
Students from PS 11 Elementary School participate in art projects and interactive activities, during an after-school outdoor program held in the High Line park in New York, NY, October 21, 2020.
Students from PS 11 Elementary School participate in art projects and interactive activities during an after-school outdoor program in New York City in 2020. Many schools are opting for outdoor classes and other-low cost measures to maintain healthy air quality during the pandemic.
Anthony Behar/Sipa via AP Images
School & District Management Hour by Busy Hour: What a Principal's Day Actually Looks Like
From the time they wake up until they set the alarm at night, school leaders juggle the routine, the unexpected, and the downright bizarre.
Left, Principal Michael C. Brown talks on a radio at Winters Mill High School in Westminster, Md., on May 17, 2022. Right, Boone Elementary School principal Manuela Haberer directs students and parents in the pick-up line at the conclusion of the school day on May 19, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas.
Left, Principal Michael C. Brown talks on a radio at Winters Mill High School in Westminster, Md., on May 17, 2022. Right, Boone Elementary School principal Manuela Haberer directs students and parents in the pick-up line at the conclusion of the school day on May 19, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas.
From left, Steve Ruark and Lisa Krantz for Education Week
School & District Management Photos What School Leadership Looks Like: A Day in the Life of a Principal
A look at a typical day for one elementary school principal in Texas and a high school principal in Maryland.
1 min read
Principal Michael C. Brown, from left, talks to seniors Brady D’Anthony, 18, and Sydney Dryden, 17, at Winters Mill High School in Westminster, Md., Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Principal Michael C. Brown, from left, talks to seniors Brady D’Anthony, 18, and Sydney Dryden, 17, at Winters Mill High School in Westminster, Md., Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Steve Ruark for Education Week
School & District Management Schools Can Access Tons of Money for Electric Buses. Will They Use It?
Electric buses are growing more appealing as fuel prices rise, but some districts remain wary of the cost and logistics.
5 min read
Stockton Unified School District's new electric bus fleet reduces over 120,000 pounds of carbon emissions and leverages The Mobility House's smart charging and energy management system.
The new electric bus fleet at California's Stockton Unified School District is projected to reduce the district's carbon emissions.
Business Wire via AP