Administration is shuffled

Mellor, Stanford given more authority in School District

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Broader authority for Finance Director Dale Mellor and Content Standards Director Kelly Stanford are among the changes in store for Steamboat Springs School District's management structure.

Revising administrative teams and reorganizing the top levels of district administration was one of the numerous recommendations made by Phi Delta Kappa International, an education group that recently completed a curriculum management audit of the school district.

"The organizational structure and related decision-making processes are missing important key functions and do no meet audit standards," reads a finding in the 160-page report released in June.

Auditors found the district lacks a logical grouping of functions, including departments that appear to be autonomous from the system as a whole. Staff functions have blended together over time, leaving some administrators and directors devoid of the authority they need to fulfill job responsibilities, the audit found.

The report also indicated the district's decision-making processes don't contribute to sound curriculum management, a finding supported by comments from district leaders.

Superintendent Donna Howell has said she wasn't surprised by any of the findings, including those involving the district's administrative structure. Howell met recently with the administrative team to review audit recommendations, including organizational restructuring.

The revised structure, which was approved by the School Board last week, is unchanged at the top, with the School Board maintaining ultimate district control and Howell directly below it.

Under Howell are each of the four school principals, as well as Mellor, whose title will change to director of operations and finance, and Stanford, who will become director of curriculum and instruction.

Mellor will supervise the directors of maintenance, transportation and nutritional services, while Stanford will supervise the director of technology, the grant writer, school technology coordinators and teachers on special assignments. The high school and middle school assistant principals will report to their building principals.

Mellor and Stanford likely will receive salary increases appropriate for their increased workload and responsibility, Howell said. Any potential increases won't be determined until after final job descriptions are completed.

The previous administrative structure didn't specify a chain of command, job responsibilities or individual authority.

"This way, the supervision will be divided," Howell said. "And it makes more sense the way this is structured. This is the organizational structure in place in most districts.

"We're designating appropriate authority to Dale (Mellor) and Kelly (Stanford). It's going to free me up to focus more on the educational aspects, like visiting schools and doing what I feel best suits my strengths and skills."

Reorganization efforts also include team division. The district will have three separate teams to accomplish various purposes. A curriculum and instruction team will meet twice a month and will include Howell, Stanford, building principals and assistant principals and other district employees when appropriate, Howell said.

The administrative team will consist of Howell and all department directors and administrators, much like the current administrative team. The group, which will meet monthly, will focus on organizational learning, policy review and shared learning, according to a proposal from Howell.

A third team, the leadership team, will be comprised of Howell, Mellor, Stanford and building principals and assistant principals. Assistant principals won't be decision-makers on the team, Howell said. The leadership team will focus on advising Howell, working on policy review, reviewing and monitoring the district-wide plan and engaging in team and shared learning.

"I believe it's going to help us move to the next level of excellence," Howell said of the changes.

School Board Vice President Tami Havener said she repeatedly has heard from administrators and staff the need for a better decision-making system within the district. The recommendations made by Phi Delta Kappa fit well with the needs of the system.

"We took the recommendations to heart," Havener said. "We'd like to move in this direction."

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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