Dexter Schools Shift Administrative Roles to Address Ongoing Staffing Challenges



DEXTER, MI – Significant administrative changes are coming to Dexter community schools as the district seeks to adapt its current staff to meet current staffing challenges.

Superintendent Chris Timmis recently provided a breakdown of the changes in responsibilities for some directors, while announcing the creation of new positions to better meet his current needs, including a new director for operations.

Timmis said Dexter is experiencing the same staffing issues that have impacted county and state school districts, including its administrative ranks, forcing the district to shift its administrative responsibilities to better meet its current challenges. .

“As a school district, we believe we need to approach this staffing issue and our organizational structure proactively and create new solutions to provide the best education for our students,” Timmis wrote in a message to families across the country. district. “… With recent retirements (and retirement announcements), our team members are changing. This requires us to use our existing members in different roles that meet the immediate and long term needs of our organization while building capacity for our future.

Dexter’s most immediate administrative need is for Mill Creek Middle School, where Principal Jami Bronson recently announced his retirement, effective the end of January.

She will be replaced by the current Deputy Principal of Dexter High School, Ken Koenig, who will take over at Mill Creek on an interim basis.

With Koenig’s move to Mill Creek, DCS Community Education and Jenkins Early Childhood Learning Center Principal David Teddy will take on the role of Acting Deputy Principal at Dexter High School. The district is working on a plan to fill Teddy’s role in community education in the coming weeks, Timmis said.

The district has also created a new administrative position, that of Director of Operations, which will be headed by Director of Anchor Elementary Craig McCalla.

The work includes overseeing the leadership of the district buildings, land and transportation department and assessing the needs of support staff to meet staff retention and recruitment strategies. The position is also focused on achieving district bond improvements in 2017.

Timmis said that with the continuing national shortage of construction, land and transport workers, more work must be devoted to the efficient continuation of operations.

“We have to come up with another plan to clean the buildings, transport the students and provide other support services,” Timmis said. “It will take time and focus to examine all aspects of our organization to help us find new models to meet the needs of our students, families and staff. “

While the “new models” may lead some to believe that the district is considering third-party services, Timmis said the district “will not privatize these services.”

“We have great employees and we want to keep our employees,” he said. “Another plan refers to looking at planning models and how other organizations have creatively solved the same problems we have.

With McCalla in a new administrative role, Beacon Elementary School principal Brooke Stidham, who was hired by the district in August, will also be principal of Anchor Elementary School.

She will be assisted in this role by Katie Heikkila, who becomes interim vice-principal of elementary school. Heikkila previously taught early elementary special education and college special education, and was the principal official at Dexter Early Middle College.

With Koenig and Heikkila taking on new roles, Dexter appointed Lauren Thompson to oversee Dexter Early Middle College and Alternative Education, Timmis said. Thompson divided his time between the assistant director of Creekside and the graduation coach of DHS.

She will continue in her role as Senior Assistant at Creekside while holding teaching and senior leadership roles with Dexter Alternative Education and Dexter Early Middle College. Abby Holland, Chair of the Special Education Department at Dexter High School, will serve as the Special Education Liaison between DHS, Alternative Education and Dexter Early Middle College, while continuing her leadership and leadership roles. teaching at DHS.

Beyond administrative ranks, Timmis has also announced new positions as the district strives to fill more than 50 positions.

Timmis said the district is looking to create one or two “utility player positions” interested in working year-round to fill a variety of vacancies, from wardens and bus drivers to para-educators and back-ups in all areas. .

“This new challenge requires new solutions that provide significant flexibility based on the current needs of the organization,” said Timmis. “As a baseball fan, I have always admired the role of the utility player.”

The district is also adding staff positions in areas such as student accounting, student information systems and technology supports, Timmis said.

This includes adding a “Student Information Systems Specialist” to help oversee e-learning platforms the district uses like Powerschool, Canvas, Summit and SeeSaw.

“Due to retirements and the volatility of the labor market, we have lost a great deal of expertise in our organization in this area, as the need to maximize these systems and build the capacity of new staff is at its peak. Said Timmis. “This new hire will be our local expert while creating new opportunities for students. “

The Student Information Systems Specialist will also train and lead a team of technology students at both Mill Creek and Dexter High School. Student members of the technology team will work during the school day and outside of school hours in a combination of paid and unpaid roles – during the school day – serving the diverse technology needs of the district.

The district is also looking to hire a student accounting and data specialist who specializes in coordinating payroll and benefits, allowing DCS to make several internal changes to support its business office, Timmis said.

“We are committed to finding solutions in our infrastructure to minimize the impact of staff shortages and other challenges on our students,” said Timmis. “If we don’t adapt and take these steps, we believe it will end up degrading the quality of education our students receive. We believe that these steps will not only avoid some of these consequences, but will ultimately strengthen our district and continue to move us on an upward trajectory. “

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