Department of Education officials are framing the latest reorganization of how schools receive support as a money-saving measure brought on by difficult financial times.

In a letter sent to school principals last week, Chief Schools Officer Eric Nadelstern offers more details on what the reorganization will look like and puts the savings at $13 million. The savings will come, in part, through the elimination of 80 administrative positions, Chancellor Joel Klein told network leaders last week.

Last week, I reported that the DOE is planning to dismantle the Integrated Service Centers in each borough — places principals turn to when they need help with budgeting and the paperwork that comes along with special education and safety regulation compliance. In place of ISCs, principals will work with Children First Networks, small groups of about a dozen DOE employees who work directly with schools’ existing support organizations.

Another element of the reorganization is the dissolution of the city’s School Support Organizations and their rebirth as six new networks. In his letter, Nadelstern assures principals they’ll likely be working with same people as they do now. Many of the new network leaders, such as Judith Chin and Jose Ruiz, currently oversee support organizations. Others include Vincent Brevetti, Vincent Clark, Anthony Conelli, and Deborah Maldonado.

Nonprofits that run their own support organizations, such as New Visions and Replications, Inc., will continue to do so until their contracts expire in 2011.

Clara Hemphill, senior editor at the New School’s Center for NYC Affairs, has mapped out the many reorganizations the DOE’s bureaucracy has done through under Klein.

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, in this challenging budget climate, we are all being asked to do more with less. While schools are currently finding ways to reduce their budgets by one percent, central and field budgets are being cut by 2.5 percent, including a five percent reduction in headcount which follows last year’s eight percent reduction in headcount. As difficult as this climate can be, it has also provided an opportunity for the Division of School Support (DSS) to take a look at how we provide support to our schools. Our goal is to provide the highest quality services at the lowest cost while maintaining our focus on providing you with the supports you need to improve student achievement. To accomplish this goal, we are going to maintain networks as the primary support for schools and drive maximum resources to the network teams. We will do this by:

* Expanding the Children First Network (CFN) model to all networks citywide

* Transitioning operational supports from Integrated Service Centers (ISCs) to networks as of June 2010

* Consolidating the School Support Organizations into six smaller management teams, which will each oversee 10 CFN networks of approximately 250 schools; schools that work with Partnership Support Organizations will continue to do so and there will be similar CFN alignment to the PSOs. This consolidation will eliminate duplication of services across the ISCs, networks, SSOs, and central offices. It is a critical step that will save approximately $13 million dollars that otherwise would have been pulled from school budgets. This will help reduce the need for even deeper school-based cuts.

I understand how important stability is to your relationships with your network team. You will remain in the same network, work with the same network leader, and, in most cases, your network leader will continue to report to the same person. Also, until the ISCs transition in June, you will continue to work with ISC staff except in those cases where the network is already CFN.

This spring, you will have the opportunity to help your network leaders hire additional instructional and operational support staff for your network team for the 2010-2011 school year. For the following school year, you will participate in a network-based selection process and will be able to switch networks in July 2011 based on your specific and changing needs. There are over 500 schools that already work under the CFN structure and their experience leads me to believe that by expanding this model system wide, we will increase efficiency, service quality, and overall principal satisfaction. I am confident that by further empowering those closest to schools, we will enable even more of our students to succeed. If you have any questions about this transition, feel free to email me, discuss with your network leader or e-mail DSSquestions@schools.nyc.gov.

Sincerely,

Eric Nadelstern

Chief Schools Officer