New Haven Public Schools Superintendent Garth Harries announced his impending resignation Tuesday, further shaking up a Board of Education that is already in the process of restructuring its central office operations.
According to a joint statement released by the BOE and Harries Tuesday morning, his employment is tentatively scheduled to end by Nov. 1. Despite Harries’ sudden departure right at the start of the school year, and the ongoing personnel shuffle resulting from that, BOE members have expressed their intention to keep serving NHPS and to continue the work of the BOE’s Reorganization Committee.
Harries’ exit coincides with ongoing efforts by the Reorganization Committee, an ad hoc subcommittee anchored under the BOE, to restructure work assignments within its central offices, which include any department other than public schools. As an effort that began last academic year, the Reorganization Committee is currently made up of three BOE members and the superintendent.
According to Vice President of the NHPS’s Teaching and Learning Committee Alicia Caraballo, the Reorganization Committee was created in response to issues within the district. Due to significant slashes to the city budget this fiscal year, she explained, streamlining the BOE’s internal structure is the “fiscally responsible” choice to serve the New Haven community.
However, the main motivation behind the establishment of the ad hoc entity was to address major concerns that have been brought up by some BOE members, she said.
“We were concerned about what we saw in terms of the organizational structure that the superintendent was using,” Caraballo said. “We thought that there were some gaps that didn’t sit well with us.”
Caraballo cited the lack of supervision in the Early Childhood Education department as an example of structural defects within the BOE. She said that as of last year, there was no guidance in this field of work, one critical to the success of the Elm City’s next generation.
Michael Nast, co-chair of the NHPS’s Governance Committee, and Edward Joyner, one of the two elected voting members of the BOE, sit on the Reorganization Committee along with Caraballo and Harries. All three members’ professional involvement in the field of social work and education consulting allow them to contribute to the restructuring of the BOE’s central offices, which include Food Services and Early Childhood Education, Caraballo said.
The three BOE members on the Reorganization Committee work closely with the superintendent in the issue of restructuring central office operations, an effort that might be impeded by Harries’ exit, members said.
Chief of Staff at the Superintendent’s Office Dolores Garcia-Blocker said she is tasked with creating an organizational chart that “shows the composition of every central office department,” using the information supplied by the Reorganization Committee.
“The reality is our organizational chart is going to be reflective of all the offices in central office so that the cover page of the organizational chart will show where the major offices are and who reports to whom,” Garcia-Blocker said.
Garcia-Blocker said she was initially expected to complete the chart by early October. However, with Harries’ departure, Caraballo said she did not see how the committee can complete its work in such a short period.
Even though Caraballo declined to comment on the appointment of a new superintendent, she expressed eagerness in continuing the committee’s work.
“We still need a superintendent. The work still needs to be done,” Caraballo said. “The more that we have a plan and a structure that makes sense and addresses our needs, regardless of whom we end up ultimately selecting as superintendent would make sense.”
Though his employment will end on Nov. 1, Harries’ contract originally expired on Jun. 30, 2018.