Gwinnett superintendent considers leadership reorganization proposal

Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent Calvin Watts brought in an organizational consultant to assess the district's leadership structure and areas of focus. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent Calvin Watts brought in an organizational consultant to assess the district's leadership structure and areas of focus. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

An organizational consultant recently told the Gwinnett County Board of Education and top school leaders that the district’s executive structure should be changed to improve its service students and their families.

Superintendent Calvin Watts brought in MGT Consulting as “objective observers” to evaluate district operations. The firm was tasked with offering recommendations that would make the district more effective.

During an April school board meeting, Mark Raisor and Lamont Browne of MGT said Gwinnett’s leadership structure is disjointed, redundant and too big. They advised reducing the amount of people who directly report to Watts by eliminating some roles and clarifying job responsibilities.

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“The more time Dr. Watts spends managing, the less time he’s the instructional leader of the school district,” Raisor said. “The more bureaucracy this school district has, the harder it is for the clients of the school district — students and families — to access services.”

Board member Mary Kay Murphy said she was concerned with the level of change and disrupting the district.

“How many changes at one time can our school system accommodate?” she asked.

MGT’s presentation noted that Gwinnett is in a strong financial position and has facilities in good condition, enabling more time to focus on improving operations, particularly in terms of equity.

Browne said equity has been underserved, so the district must provide additional funding and staffing, along with doing an audit, to develop an action plan.

“It’s nice to know we are actually in a position to make it happen,” board member Karen Watkins said. “We actually are on a level up where we should see things actually occur over time, where we are seeing more equity for our students.”

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Watts started as superintendent in August, succeeding J. Alvin Wilbanks, who was in the role for 25 years. In an email, Watts said it’s common practice to do an organizational review when there is a transition in leadership.

“Within any large, complex organization, there are multiple changes that take place on a daily basis,” the email said. “Through the course of several years (and within a global pandemic), it becomes even more important to determine the current needs of an organization based on existing conditions and outcomes.”

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