Decatur schools superintendent changes, reshapes staff

City Schools of Decatur Superintendent David Dude is reshaping his adminisatrative staff. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM
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City Schools of Decatur Superintendent David Dude is reshaping his adminisatrative staff. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

In his first 16 months as Decatur schools superintendent, David Dude kept virtually intact the structure he inherited from his predecessor Phyllis Edwards. But that changed when he announced a dramatic administrative reorganization in the fast-growing school system.

He is eliminating the titles of the nine current department heads, creating instead 10 “district leadership positions” with mostly new job descriptions. Most of the positions will be filled by current staffers. Two positions will get posted, and one is a newly created job

Dude said, no administrative staff will lose their jobs.

“This is a pretty serious reorganization,” he said. “It clarifies the responsibilities better. It is more efficient and effective. Up to now I’ve been dealing directly with a lot of things I shouldn’t have been dealing with.”

The former superintendent had most of the leaders report directly to her. Under Dude’s new structure, leadership and decision-making could be pushed down from the central office to the schools. He hopes to create more collaboration between departments.

“It sounds to me he’s setting his people up to accept the [enrollment] growth, to accept the new culture,” said Dr. John Zauner, Executive Director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association. “I’ve always believed those closest to the problem have the best solutions to the problem, and then they report to the next person on the ladder.

“As you grow,” he added, “you can’t have everybody reporting to you. That would be harum scarum.”

City Schools Decatur’s K-12 enrollment has grown rapidly from 2,687 students in 2000-10 to a high of 5,040 in last October’s official head count. The student population grew 8 percent from 2015-16 alone.

Garrett Goebel, the school board’s vice chair, believes the growth makes it imperative to accurately gauge and how, when and where to spend money.

“What we’ve found,” Goebel said, “is that some of our schools have more resources than other schools, and some grade bands have more resources. The board entrusts the superintendent with being efficient with funds. I believe [with the reorganization] there will be a more equitable and systemic distribution of funds.”

Here’s the list of Dude’s 10 district leadership positions:

Equity Director, focusing on the disproportionality between black and white students. Dude hopes to have the new hire on board by this summer.

Executive Director of Curriculum Instruction, in charge all curriculum. Dude describes this as being “repurposed” from an existing position. The job will be posted.

The following jobs are filled or will be filled by someone already on staff:

Staff Evaluation and Professional Learning Director, will conduct evaluations on all staff.

Executive Director of Student Support over athletics, clubs, special education, counselors, nurses and social workers.

Research and Analytics Director, in charge of all assessments on student learning, data and analysis.

Director of Community and Government Relations, already filled by current staffer Courtney Burnett.

Executive Director of Information Services already filled by current Director of Technology Eston Melton.

Executive Director of Staff Support, already filled by current Human Resources Director David Adams

Executive Director of Finance, already filled by current Director of Finance Susan Hurst

Executive Director of Operations, already filled by Chief Operating Officer Noel Maloof.

The overall shift in responsibilities will take several months, Dude said. All existing staffers should occupy their new positions by the end of this school year.

“You have to give it a year or two to see how it shakes out,” Zauner said. “As a superintendent you have that freedom to organize and reorganize. A smart board will allow that freedom, but then, in the end, you hold him accountable.”