Archive for Saturday, February 10, 2001


February 10, 2001


"Apparently, there will continue to be limited state funding for education," Weseman said in an interview Friday. "Over the years, that's produced, in my mind, a need for us to become leaner."

Weseman, appointed superintendent in October, has worked in Lawrence public schools for 25 years.

"I believe a less complex, simpler organization can produce results that will improve the system," he said.

Weseman said his plan, if adopted by the board, would be implemented July 1. This phase would squeeze 25 jobs with annual salaries of $1.38 million into 14 jobs that consume $951,000 annually, which is a reduction of $434,000. A second phase would be offered to the board in January 2002.

Key elements of his current proposal:

l Establish the Teacher Leadership Cadre. Fifteen to 20 classroom teachers would be selected each year to advise district administrators with curriculum development. Cadre members would be paid stipends up to $4,000 annually.

"I'm trying to connect the planning we do for the curriculum to the professional teachers in the classroom," Weseman said.

l Hire a school improvement specialist. The person in this new job would work to close the academic achievement gap among elementary schools.

"I want to allocate resources to work on school improvement for schools on the lower end of performance."

l Hire a chief financial officer, director of personnel and increase the presence of special-education supervisors in elementary schools.

Weseman said his objective was to undo the complexity of the district's administration so all the parts could work together in a meaningful way.

He said Peter Drucker, a guru of nonprofit management, once compared organizations to an orchestra. An organization needs a conductor with specialists playing from the same score, Drucker said.

"In other words," Weseman said, "there are no intermediaries between the specialists and the top manager. They are organized as a gigantic task force. The organization is mostly flat."

"For this school district to excel and reach its true potential, everyone has to be focused on the same sheet of music. Our current organization suffers because it has too many orchestras playing the same hall and playing different kinds of music. The organization is just too complicated. There's no music, just sounds."

-- Staff writer Tim Carpenter can be reached at 832-7155.

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