He hasn’t been in the position for long, but the new Knox County Schools Superintendent is already making big changes.
Jon Rysewyk, who started as superintendent on Saturday, announced the district will restructure its central office into five regional teams, a move he says is designed to better meet the needs of students at the community level.
“As one of the largest districts in Tennessee, a one-size-fits-all approach will not provide the level of responsiveness our school communities deserve,” Rysewyk said in a news release. “I believe the regional teams will help us foster community engagement and ownership in the educational process, and shift the focus of education from the central office to individual schools, where the most important work occurs. “
Each region will have a director and supervisor who have experience in primary and secondary education, according to the statement. Knox County Schools has not announced how schools will be grouped, but will be based on “feeding patterns and geographic proximity.”
In an embargoed interview with Knox News last week, Rysewyk said moving from a centralized to a regional structure would help achieve his four priorities, namely:
- Excellence in core competencies.
- Provide excellent educators in every school.
- Empowerment and career preparation.
- Success for every student.
“We want to deploy our supports, we want to deploy our resources and really be able to stay true to those four priorities,” Rysewyk said. “But understand that each community is going to have these (priorities) in a different order. … I think always being centralized made us struggle to have more specific answers for different communities.”
The superintendent also announced five assistant superintendents as part of the realignment.
The positions are:
- Deputy Director of Studies, who will oversee learning and literacy, academic supports, and college and career readiness.
- Assistant Superintendent of Business and Talent, who will oversee human resources and the chief financial officer.
- Assistant to the Director of Academic Success, who will oversee English language learning, health services, school culture and special education.
- Deputy Director of Operations, who will oversee safety, transport and maintenance.
- Deputy Director of Strategy, who will oversee communications, research, evaluation and programming funded by federal emergency assistance for elementary and secondary schools.
Two of these assistant superintendents, the assistant superintendent of academics and the assistant superintendent of student success, will also oversee the new regional groups.
These positions are new titles for existing roles, not additional jobs, Rysewyk said in the interview. The restructuring will cut “one or two jobs”, he said.
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“How do we best align? How do we make sure we have resources in those four areas if we really want to move the needle for students in those areas?” said Rysewik. “It’s caused us to recreate some jobs and re-imagine some jobs to try to give ourselves the best shot at getting it right.”
Knox County Schools did not announce who will fill the positions, but said information and how the regions will be structured will be announced “in the coming days.”