New CUNY Program To Train School Assistant Principals As Chief Operating Officers Will Start In September; Wallace-Readers Digest Grant Funds Pilot

The City University of New York will launch a pilot program in September to train New York City public school assistant principals as chief operating officers, freeing principals for greater academic leadership. A $50,000 grant from the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund will help kick-off the new program. The effort has the support of Schools Chancellor Harold O. Levy and CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein.

“Principals have to be relieved of day-to-day responsibilities, such as dealing with the budget and physical facilities, so they can focus attention on academic issues including improving student test scores and guiding teacher development. This is especially important as new standards are implemented and principals are held accountable for student performance,” said CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Louise Mirrer.

“At the same time, the program emphasizes the importance of effective school-based management of non-academic issues. We are very grateful to the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund for their vision and the Ventures in Leadership grant in helping to get this groundbreaking program started,” she added.

In the pilot program, CUNY faculty from Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs, and the Schools of Education at Brooklyn and Hunter Colleges will teach assistant principals from School Districts 19 and 2 how to take on operations responsibilities. CUNY has recently established an Institute for Educational Leadership at Baruch College to focus on school leadership training. In addition, Baruch College houses both the School of Public Administration and the Zicklin School of Business.

The curriculum will include budget management in an academic context, accountability in budget management, efficient ordering and inventory-keeping, efficient distribution systems, data management, and understanding school-based academic goals. The program will use executive training models that take advantage of weekends, on-line learning, and other systems to maximize learning for busy professionals.

The 12-month program will start in September. This summer, focus groups made up of superintendents and principals are discussing how to provide ideal leadership for schools, and CUNY faculty are contributing ideas on how to address organizational management and other leadership issues.

The project will also develop a short-term curriculum for principals on the effective use of chief operating officers, including such topics as remaining accountable while shifting responsibility for day-to-day management to the operations officers, and best practices in leadership.

University Dean for Teacher Education Dr.Nicholas Michelli will serve as project director.

Mrs. Edith Everett, former Vice Chair of the CUNY Board of Trustees, participated in the development of the pilot program and is assembling an advisory group for its evaluation and eventual expansion as a full curriculum for New York City school leadership.