City school system decentralized into regions by Amprey

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Goodbye ivory tower, hello little red schoolhouse.

That's the plan for some school bureaucrats in Baltimore, where Superintendent Walter G. Amprey unveiled the latest phase of his reorganization plan yesterday.

Dr. Amprey announced that he is chopping the school system into six geographic regions and putting an assistant superintendent in charge of all schools in each region.

Each of those assistants will report directly to him and will likely work out of a school, rather than out of school headquarters on North Avenue.

The plan, effective in September, is part of a continuing reorganization of the city's school system by Dr. Amprey, who took over in August.

His aim is to shift authority from school headquarters to the schools themselves. That shift toward local decision-making has been a top priority of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

Among the other changes announced yesterday, and effective April 6, Dr. Amprey said he will:

* Recombine the departments of curriculum and instruction, which had once been a single department.

* Name Dr. Jeanette H. Evans, currently director of special projects, to the new post of chief of staff. Her current post will be eliminated.

* Eliminate the position of executive assistant to the superintendent.

The regional administrative structure announced yesterday is a big change from the current setup, in which six "directors" at North Avenue oversee schools scattered throughout the city.

Currently, each director deals with a specific type of school -- elementary, middle or high schools -- and not with a mix of all three.

By contrast, the new area superintendents will be in charge of all the schools within their region, from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Each will assist and supervise 29 or 30 schools in their region, with a student population of about 18,000 in each region.

Dr. Amprey's aim is to move the school system's top brass closer to the schools and to the principals they supervise.

"Decision-making must be moved to its lowest practical point," he said at a packed news conference yesterday. "We must rethink and shed some old paradigms."

The regional system is similar to one in place in Baltimore County. It also harks back to a similar structure in place in Baltimore in the early 1970s in which each region had about 35 staff members, Dr. Amprey noted.

But Dr. Amprey insisted that his structure is more streamlined, that it will cost the school system no more money and that it will not add staff.

Instead of large regional staffs, he plans only three bureaucrats in each region: an area assistant superintendent, an administrative assistant and a secretary.

However, Dr. Amprey admitted that school officials will have to take care that the new structure doesn't grow out of hand.

"We can only get around that by how we behave," he said. "We could fall right back into a bureaucratic mode if we're not really diligent."

The plan drew a cautious but generally positive reaction from school department observers.

"There's one very definite 'plus' -- he has moved the principals closer to him," said Sheila Kolman, head of the Public School Administrators and Supervisors Association.

Ms. Kolman said the principals would have only one bureaucrat -- the area superintendent -- between them and the head of the system.

She also praised the idea of having area superintendents work with a range of schools, not just with elementary or secondary schools.

"There is a K-through-12 flow, and there is more of a community in this kind of structure," said Ms. Kolman.

Irene B. Dandridge, co-president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, had a mixed reaction.

"I'm happy that it's cut out some of the bureaucracy," she said. "Our problem is there is nothing that's being said about what goes on at the classroom level."

Robert L. Wilson, president of the Baltimore City Council of PTAs, said he favors clustering different kinds of schools together under a single regional administrator.

"It brings a cohesiveness to the system," he said of the superintendent's plan.

The plan is "a continuation of pushing things away from North Avenue," said Jeffrey Valentine, a spokesman for the Greater Baltimore Committee.

"He's really pushing site-based decision-making and site-based instructional management."

Others are reserving judgment until they see how the plan is put into effect.

"Organizational charts are great, but what matters is the people who fill those positions," said Mindy Mintz, an educational specialist with Advocates for Children and Youth. The plan will not work "if it's business as usual and the bureaucracy remains the bureaucracy."

The changes announced yesterday stem in part from several studies of the school system's management commissioned by Dr. Amprey.

BALTIMORE CITY SCHOOL REGIONS

Every school in the city would be located in one of these 6 regions, under a reorganization plan announced by School superintendent Walter G. Amprey yesterday.

NORTH CENTRAL (NC)

Hilton #21

Westside #24

Coldstream Park #31

Mildred Monroe #32

Malcolm X #38

Dallas F. Nicholas Sr. #39

Montebello #44

Abbottson #50

Waverly #51

Margaret Brent #53

Barclay #54

Hampden #55

Robert Poole #56

Ashburton #58

Gwynns Falls #60

John Eager Howard #61

Edgecomb Circle #62

Mt. Royal #66

Edgewood #67

William H. Lemmel #79

Greenspring #82

Venable #115

Robert W. Coleman #142

Mount Washington #221

Pimlico #223

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. #254

Walbrook #411

Frederick Douglass #450

Baltimore City College #480

NORTHEAST (NE)

Hamilton #41

Chinquapin Middle #46

Northeast Middle #49

Herring Run #077

Moravia Park #105

Walter P. Carter #134

Woodhome #205

Furley #206

Winston #209

Hazelwood #210

Gardenville #211

Garrett Heights #212

Govans #213

Guilford #214

Frankford #216

Yorkwood #219

Brehms Lane #231

Roland Park #233

Glenmount #235

Hamilton #236

Northwood #242

Leith Walk #245

Medfield Heights #249

Lois T. Murray #313

Woodbourne Center #353

Northern #402

Baltimore Polytechnic #403

Western #407

Mergenthaler #410

NORTHWEST AREA SCHOOLS

Langston Hughes #5

Park Heights #14

Matthew A. Henson #29

Garrison #42

Rosemont #63

Liberty #64

Calverton #75

Windsor Hills #87

Lyndhurst #88

Rognel Heights #89

James Mosher #144

Alexander Hamilton #145

George L. McMechen #177

Dickey Hill #201

Mary E. Rodman #204

Belmont #217

Pimlico #222

Grove Park #224

Thomas Jefferson #232

Arlington #234

Fallstaff #241

Cross Country #247

Callaway #251

Calvin Rodwell #256

William S. Baer #301

Dr. Lilly M. Jackson #315

Northwestern #401

Forest Park #406

Harbor City #413

Carver #454

SOUTHEAST (SE)

Cecil #007

Tench Tilghman #13

Johnston Square #16

Dr. Rayner Browne #25

Madison Square #26

Commodore John Rodgers #27

Harford Heights #36

lake Clifton/Eastern #40

Hampstead Hill #43

Hampstead Hill #47

William Paca #83

Fort Worthington #85

Lakewood #86

Collington Square #97

Elmer A. Henderson #101

Luther Craven Mitchell #135

Highlandtown #215

John Ruhrah #228

Holabird #229

Canton #230

Highlandtown #237

Graceland Park/O'Donnell Hghts. #240

Armistead Gardens #243

Sinclair Lane #248

Dr. Bernard Heards, Sr. #250

Southeast Middle #255

Claremont #307

Patterson #405

Harford Institute #456

Laurence G. Paquin #457

SOUTH (S)

City Springs #8

James McHenry #10

Lexington Terrace #19

George Washington #22

General Wolfe #23

Federal Hill #45

Lombard #57

Southern #70

Francis Scott Key #76

Thomas Johnson #84

Thomas G. Hayes #102

Bay Brook #124

Dunbar Middle #133

C. Carroll of Carrollton #139

Cherry Hill #159

Carter Godwin Woodson #160

Patapsco #163

Arundel #164

Cherry Hill #180

Maree G. Farring #203

Curtis Bay #207

Morrell Park #220

Westport #225

Benjamin Franklin #239

Harbor View #304

Sharp-Leadenhall #314

Paul Laurence Dunbar #414

Baltimore School for the Arts #415

SOUTHWEST (SW)

Steuart Hill #4

Eutaw Marshburn #011

William Pinderhughes #28

George Street #30

Barrister Charles Carroll #34

Harlem Park #35

Sarah M. Roach #73

Harlem Park #78

West Baltimore #80

Franklin Square #95

Samuel B. Morse #98

Gilmor #107

Duke Ellington #117

Samuel Coleridge Tayor #127

Furman Templeton #125

Booker T. Washington #130

Harriet Tubman #138

Bentalou #150

George Kelson #157

Diggs Johnson #162

Frances M. Wood #178

Lafayette #202

Violetville #226

Beechfield #246

Frederick #260

Lockerman Bundy #261

Upton School #303

Edmondson/Westside #400

Southwestern #412

Joseph C. Briscoe #451

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