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Wanted: A problem-solver to oversee small-school mergers

Chancellor Carmen Fariña
Chancellor Carmen Fariña
Patrick Wall

The education department wants someone skilled at solving thorny problems and encouraging cooperation to lead its new effort to consolidate small schools, according to an agency job posting.

The senior director of school redesign and consolidation will work with superintendents, school staffers, families, and others to “redesign schools,” which includes “the consolidation of under-enrolled district schools,” the posting says. Applicants for the $107,713-per-year job must have three to four years experience in education administration, with at least 18 months in a management role. They should be skilled at “managing collaborative relationships,” “identifying and resolving potential roadblocks,” and approaching “all stakeholders with a win-win mentality.”

The posting follows Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s announcement last week that she plans to combine some small schools, with up to a dozen schools currently being considered for mergers. The chancellor will use consolidation as one strategy to prop up low-performing schools with declining enrollments, but higher-performing small schools could also be considered for mergers, officials said.

Fariña promised at least 10 meetings between officials and school communities before any schools are combined, and the posting says the director will lead “meetings with relevant DOE personnel and external stakeholders, including community activists, elected officials, and nonprofit leaders.”

In a sign that any school mergers will likely attract the attention of the public and the media, and that some could prove controversial, the director will be expected to work in “close collaboration with Press Secretary, Executive Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, and City Hall press team.” (An education department spokeswoman said that line included an error, and that the director will only work with the department’s press team.)

Department job postings usually remain online for 10 days, after which candidates are interviewed and hired. The city is expected to announce the first group of schools that could be merged by the end of the academic year on June 26.

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