The new School Superintendent Robert Runcie is off to a running start.
But will he find he is running on an exercise wheel?
He has a large number of key positions open which should allow him to change the direction of the system.
Runcie is going to hire immediately a chief of staff, a chief operations officer, a director of facilities and management and a chief spokesperson for the system (With more layoffs rumored for the Sun-Sentinel newsroom, do they know about this opportunity?). He is adding a director of performance management to the line up.
But will he find that the old, entrenched staff tries to block any changes he and his new folks try?
Best of all for his first week: He is keeping the Board informed about his moves. That’s different from some past superintendents who ruled in a climate of secrecy.
Below is his most recent e-mail to Board members. What do you think?
Dear Chairman Williams and Members of the School Board of Broward County,
The past week was an exciting one for all of us in the Broward community. I am extremely happy to be joining the Broward family and eager to begin working with all of you to improve educational outcomes for our students.
I plan to attend the training in Gainsville and look forward to our fishing trip.
Below please find an update on my transition into the superintendent position:
- Conclude contract negotiations - We are working to have this process completed in time for your approval at the October 4th Board Meeting. Given the financial challenges we are facing, I’d like to send a positive message to the public and reduce my base salary below the current $299K compensation of the past and Interim Superintendent.
- Conduct district research on key areas such as construction and facilities, transportation, and student achievement. I also plan to review program audits, special reports, the Florida School Code, etc.
- Although I did a quick read of the Grand Jury Report several weeks ago, I am doing a detailed review of it in preparation for meeting with senior staff to determine what has been done to date to address the issues and determine what still needs to be done.
- Review board policies and administrative policies and procedures
- Review most recent financial audit and management letters
- Draft a personal and public Plan of Entry (I will ask for your input before it is published)
- Schedule one-on-one interviews with board members and establish a regular meeting schedule
- Plan for my first retreat with the Board
- Plan for my Listening Tour - I am asking all Board members to assist me by providing a list of constituents and organizations important to our mission. I will also meet with teachers, principals, students and parents during this process.
- Reach out to my neighboring superintendents in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Collier counties
- Plan for relocating - Given the short period of time I have to hit the ground running, I will initially secure rental housing and look for something more permanent at a later time.
The Broad Foundation has offered to fund the following services for the district:
- Board Retreat
- Transition Support Team – short term staffing to assist in getting a quick start
- Strategic Support Team – a gathering of 2-3 advisors to provide strategic advice on the new superintendent’s priorities (about three months after start)
I’d like to move quickly to fill a handful of key positions: Chief of Staff (new position), Public Information Officer (currently vacant position), Chief Operations Officer (will be vacant upon retirement of Donnie Carter), Director of Performance Management (new position), Deputy Superintendent of Facilities and Construction Management (acting/interim in role now). I will start presenting qualified candidates for consideration as early as next week.
I plan to be in the office the week of October 2nd and will try to meet with each of you, the ELT and other senior staff. At this time I will also try to satisfy a couple of media requests, and attend any other meetings you feel are pressing.
Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday.
(phone and e-mail address removed)