Director of Schools Jesse Register is in the process of moving more than 200 Metro schools employees out of the district’s central office and into individual schools, but this “downsizing” drew questions Monday from Metro Council members, who had heard for years that the district was not, in fact, top-heavy.
Council member Ronnie Steine cited years of independent management reports from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, which suggested the level of central office staffing was where it belonged.
Board of Education Chair David Fox said he had also relied on the Chamber reports as an independent check on staffing levels.
“For many of us that were supporters of the system, we used the data… to say that, oh no, Bransford Avenue was not too heavy,” Steine said Monday, at a meeting between Register and members of the Council Education Committee. “Does the reorganization mean that those reports were wrong?”
Register told Council members that the reorganization isn’t exactly a reduction in central office work. Rather, it’s movement.
“Characterize it not as a reduction of resources, but a shifting in where they’re housed,” Register said. “Services are best provided and most effective when they’re located in schools.”
The shift was also, in part, a correction resulting from the building up of the district’s federal programs office last year, Register said. The director told Council members that the new school-level employees would have adequate work space in schools.
The reorganization is still in progress. According to Register, about $15 million in resources and more than 200 people will be moved to schools from the Metro Nashville Public Schools central office.
Full details of the changes are due to be announced soon.
The meeting between Council members and Register came about a week and a half before the full Council considers the MNPS budget. Register gave Council members more information about how federal stimulus dollars will be spent — for example, stimulus dollars targeting students with disabilities will allow thousands of employees to be trained over the summer on how to integrate students with disabilities in general education classes — and he emphasized that that reorganization is not a result of budget cuts.