Though Fort Smith Public Schools shifted some administrative duties and titles and added one new position over the summer, the district has not experienced the disproportionate ratio between administrative, teacher and student growth in the district.
A graph posted by the Fort Smith Education Association in June showed that from 2000 to 2019, administrative staff in U.S. public schools grew by 88% while principals and assistant principals only increased by 37% and teacher and student numbers both grew about 8% each. The graph listed the data source as the Digest for Educational Statistics prepared by the National Center for Education Statistics.
Fort Smith Public Schools provided data that shows the number of campus administration grew slightly more than district-wide administration from 2018-2021 and both grew significantly less than pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers.
“We are about where we have been for the past few years,” said Dr. Chris Davis, assistant superintendent of human resources and campus support. “We do try to make sure that when we are looking at all of our positions that all of our positions are based on student need and the needs of the district.”
Over the summer, the district did create two new administrative positions – director of recruitment and retention, and the executive director of instruction technology.
“The director of recruitment and retention is a position I worked to approve. You know the state has added a new recruitment and retention reporting expectation as well as we have had ongoing discussions with board members in board meetings on what efforts are we using to recruit the best possible employees and certified (employees),” Davis said.
Dr. Amy Manley was named director of recruitment and retention in June. Manley was principal of Ramsey Middle School since 2016. Prior working at Ramsey, Manley was the Darby Junior High assistant principal and director of bands at Kimmons Junior High. She has been with the district for 22 years. This is a new position funded entirely by Title IIA – Educator Recruitment and Retention and does not have an impact on the district’s overall operating budget, Davis said.
The executive director of instruction technology evolved out of a need for more instructional focus to the district’s technology department, Davis said. The district has not announced anyone being hired to fill this position yet.
“We have restructured that department. So our current technology personnel will report to the executive director of instructional technology,” Davis said.
The district also has reorganized some departments, which led to some new administrative titles. A special education support specialist position, which was an administrative position, is now the assistant director of special education and reports to the director of special education. Domonique Alexander was named director of special education in June. Alexander was the assistant special education director at Pulaski County Special School District in Little Rock.
Dr. Taneka Tate was named the assistant director of special education. Tate was previously the principal of Carnall Elementary School, a role she held beginning in 2017. She has been with the district for 16 years.
Other positions now have new names and duties. The district took four job functions that were assigned to two people, one of who left the district at the end of the 2021-22 school year, and rolled them into one position and reworked the positions. In the past, the district had an executive director of strategic initiatives and professional learning, and a supervisor of curriculum and federal programs, Davis said.
Those four duties and two positions were reassigned to create the position of the director of federal funds and strategic initiatives and a supervisor of curriculum and professional development. Caroline Neel was named director of federal programs and strategic initiatives in July. Neel was the district’s supervisor of curriculum and federal programs. She has been with the district for 29 years. In July, the district also named Dr. Katie Kreimer-Hall supervisor of curriculum and professional development. Kreimer-Hall was principal of Darby Middle School. She has been with the district for 11 years.
Going into the 2021-22 year, the district had a director of security and facilities.
“That structure was kind of the same as when we had one supervisor and two police officers and we were cost sharing the other resource officers with the city,” Davis said. “Now that we have our own resource officers, that position of director of security and facilities has been divided into two.”
The director of security and chief of police is Bill Hollenbeck. The executive director of facilities is Shawn Shaffer.
Joseph Velasquez was named construction project manager for the district earlier this month. Velasquez previously was production manager at Risley Architects since 2008. Prior to his work at Risley, he was a job captain/project manager at Ruhnau Clarke Architects in Riverside, Calif., for four years.
Earlier in August, the district also announced that Zena Featherston Marshall would take on a new role to coordinate community and business partnerships as the executive director of community and business partnership. Specific duties of this role include management of the Education Foundation and Partners in Education. New responsibilities include grant management/coordination and campus/community outreach. Marshall said she will continue to work with the media until a director of communications is named.