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DOE plans to let schools spurn a recently created office

Elizabeth just posted a story about an upcoming change at the Department of Education that would allow more than 350 schools to bypass the DOE’s borough-based Integrated Service Center when managing operational tasks such as budgeting and arranging student transportation. The change is an expansion of a pilot currently underway with 90 schools:

The new format would further personalize services by expanding a model that’s been quietly piloted for the last two years under the name of the Children First Network. Rather than leaning on the imposing ISC for help writing their budgets and managing paperwork-heavy responsibilities like special education, the 90 schools in the Children First Network bypass the ISC altogether. Instead, each group of about 20 schools — the configuration known in all of the citywide support organizations as a “network” — works with a team of 13 staff members who do the same tasks performed by the ISC, but on a smaller scale.

Because these staff members focus only on the 20 schools they are assigned to, principals in the program say they are less like bureaucrats and more like partners. “I know these people really, really well. They’re not some faceless bureaucrat sitting halfway across the city that I only know through e-mail and phone calls,” said a principal in the pilot phase of the network, Michael Soet of Brooklyn’s International High School. “These are people that I really know well.”

The change has the teachers and principals unions worried about the costs associated with reassigning dozens of bureaucrats, Elizabeth reports.

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