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Top DOE finance official resigns in wake of Klein's departure

The city’s top finance and budget official is following Chancellor Joel Klein out of the Department of Education, officials confirmed Wednesday evening.

Photeine “Photo” Anagnostopoulos, Deputy Chancellor for Finance and Technology, submitted her resignation Wednesday, effective immediately.

“She has served the DOE well through tough and challenging budget times and I wish her the very best in her next endeavor,” Klein wrote in an email.

“Given the transition we are about to undertake, she felt it was the right time to move on,” said DOE spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz. “We wish her well in her future endeavors, and are already beginning the process of identifying qualified candidates for her position.”

Anagnostopoulos’ departure signals that Klein’s resignation and the arrival of Hearst Magazines executive Cathie Black as chancellor will also bring a shift in power in the top circle of the DOE.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s announcement on Tuesday afternoon that he was replacing Klein with Black came as a surprise to many DOE officials, including some of Klein’s senior aides.

And while Black has indicated that she plans to rely heavily on the team of top officials that Klein brought together — especially Klein’s team of eight deputy chancellors — the willingness of some of those officials to stay on without Klein is far from certain.

Anagnostopoulos began at the DOE as the Chief Knowledge Officer and was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in the Office of Accountability in December of 2007. She held that job until last April, when the chancellor announced that School Construction Authority President Sharon Greenberger would take over the job of COO. Anagnostopoulos was named the Deputy Chancellor for Finance and Technology.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that some city officials believe Greenberger was placed in the job at Bloomberg’s behest and over the protests of Klein. The outgoing chancellor has denied those reports, but several officials told GothamSchools that Greenberger’s appointment was a sign of greater mayoral influence in the department.

Anagnostopoulos, who earned a business degree from Harvard, shares some of the same qualities that Bloomberg has praised in Black. But Anagnostopoulos has far more experience than Black in the education sector. Before joining the department, she had been the President of McGraw-Hill Digital Learning and a Senior Vice President of The College Board.

While working at McGraw-Hill, she oversaw the development of the company’s online learning programs, and at The College Board, she was part of the largest overhaul of the SAT, the college entrance exam. Before that, she was vice president of business development for Classroom Connect, which sells online professional development programs for teachers.

Anagnostopoulos’ move to a top position in the administration from McGraw-Hill, a company with an $80 million contract with the DOE, raised conflict of interest questions for some critics. She also has sparked anger from parents by defending the city’s decision to raise the class size goals.

For nearly three years, she has overseen the department’s finances in the midst of a financial downturn that has forced painful budget cuts to schools. While she has been credited with avoiding even deeper cuts, her DOE budget has also been routinely criticized for spending too much money on central administrative costs and misdirecting money intended for needy schools and students.

A year ago, before the mayor and chancellor began discussing the threat of teacher layoffs, Anagnostopolous was already making public statements about the need to cut back. “The stimulus is wonderful and it is great and it has saved jobs and programs, but we can’t kid ourselves,” she told the New York Times. “It didn’t cover everything.”

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