Schmidt pitches flattening structure

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Education > Changes would cut costs and streamline administrative staff

By Tris DeRoma

In an effort to reduce costs and make things more efficient, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt told the Los Alamos Board of Education he’s looking to streamline the structure of his administration.

Already, he’s made the former head of human resources, Gerry Washburn, assistant superintendent, and put human resources under Washburn’s watch. At a recent work session with the board, Schmidt proposed even more changes.

One of the more notable moves is his request would put the technology department under the curriculum department.

“There are a lot of drivers behind this,” he told the board. “One of those is that increasingly, technology should be a support mechanism for curriculum.” Schmidt also said that by putting technology under another department, there will be much more transparency in the department as far as procurement and use of technology is concerned.

“When technology was working as its own independent system, there weren’t really checks, oversights and balances, Schmidt said. “By putting the technology department under the auspices of director of curriculum and instruction, I believe we would have an oversight mechanism to make sure that the technology purchases and the infrastructure are used to benefit overall student achievement.”

Schmidt also dropped the title “assets manager” for Joanie Ahlers in favor of “chief operations officer,” a title he told the board better reflects what Ahlers does within the administration, which involves looking after not just the school district’s buildings, but also the equipment within the buildings including computer hardware that students use.

“Part of my intent in reorganizing is shifting personnel over to where they can help kids at a faster pace,” Schmidt said.

During his presentation, Schmidt also added that personnel reductions will not be a part of the transition.

Board President Jim Hall thought Schmidt’s reorganization for the most part made sense, but he said he plans to meet with Schmidt to ask some more questions, specifically about how the technology department, which mostly deals with software, interacts with the technological operations department under Ahlers, which mostly handles hardware, wiring and networking.

“I can see the logic behind it,’ he said. “I just want to make sure we don’t get into finger-pointing between different people in the technological department,” he said.