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The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

How CPS is organized: a guide

School board members discuss the start time proposal, and later vote

When it comes to the inner workings of the Columbia Public Schools (CPS) school district, the average concerned citizen may struggle to understand the hierarchy and distribution of powers within the district. From the superintendent to the teachers students interact with on a daily basis, school districts are organized in a typical business-esque command structure. 

At the top of the organizational hierarchy is the CPS Board of Education (BOE). The board is made up of seven members of the community who have been elected by the residents of the school district to represent their interests in the making of educational policy. According to the CPS board policies website, the BOE is responsible for setting the policies and guidelines for the running and future direction of the district and appointing and delegating authority to the superintendent. They also are responsible for evaluating the efficacy of its policies and their implementation in the district, staffing, public relations, educational planning and judicial power when relating to the conduct of CPS staff. Currently, the board is led by its President Suzette Waters and Vice President Jeanne Snodgrass. Other board members include April Ferrao, Paul Harper, John Lyman, Karen Hayes and Blake Willoughby.  

In summary, according to CPS board policies, “the role of a Board of Education is to set policy and the role of the administration is to execute it. Policy is a foundational governing document.”

Directly under the BOE and the main executor of said policy is the superintendent. According to policy CB, “the superintendent of schools is the chief executive officer for all functions under the control of the Board of Education. He/She is directly responsible to the Board of Education for the development and implementation of policies, plans and programs inherent in the operation of the school system.” Under that definition, the superintendent only reports to the BOE and is in charge of all principals and directors in the district, to which they can delegate responsibilities, yet they are still ultimately responsible for seeing them carried out. 

Furthermore, the superintendent may give directions to district employees on issues not covered by BOE policies and guidelines in order to maintain the proper functioning of the district. The superintendent is also responsible for creating, implementing and maintaining written administrative procedures to help the implementation of policy consistent with the BOE’s plans. Everything the superintendent does can be reviewed or undone by the BOE, so instead of their own leader, the superintendent acts like an arbiter, carrying out the plans of the BOE. Currently, the CPS superintendent is Brian Yearwood, who is under contract until June 30, 2027.

To help with the execution of board policy, seven chief officers act under the superintendent, charged with carrying out different essential duties in the district. Together, these chiefs act as a cabinet for the superintendent, fulfilling roles related to carrying out the BOE’s policies. The positions are Chief Equity Officer, Chief Schools Officer, Chief Academic Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Communications Officer. 

The Chief Equity Officer, a position currently held by Carla London, is responsible for home-school communication, multicultural achievement as well as assorted student services. The Chief Human Resources Officer is Michelle Holtz, who is responsible for managing employees district wide. The Chief Academic Officer, Devion Moore, is in charge of the curriculum, data and testing, as well as school improvement on a district level. Heather Mcarthur is the current Chief Financial Officer who manages the district’s finances,  and Michelle Baumstark holds the title of Chief Communications Officer who handles the district’s public relations. The Chief Operations Officer, who is in charge of the day-to-day functioning of the schools like nutrition, custodial services and transportation, is Randy Gooch. 

And lastly, Helen Porter is the current Chief Schools Officer, the person responsible for overseeing CPS schools. Under the Chief Schools Officer are the Directors of Secondary and Elementary education, who are in charge of the principals in their respective age groups. According to policy CF, “each principal or director will be the chief administrator of his or her school, and shall be responsible for and have authority over the actions of students, professional and support staff, visitors, and persons hired to perform special tasks.” They are directly in charge of administration of that school, carrying out the guidelines set forth by the BOE and the superintendent. Past these directives, “the principal or director may implement and enforce additional procedures as deemed advisable for efficient operation of the school.” 

Principals and directors are in charge of the assistant principals, administrative assistants and teachers of them. According to evaluation criteria in policy CFB, principals should work to ensure students are getting a good education as well as creating a positive school environment and working with teachers and the community to ensure the school is meeting the needs of its students.  

That is the basics of CPS organization of power. For a graphic to help visualize the hierarchy, see this nifty infographic designed by CPS.

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About the Contributor
Ella Wampler
Ella Wampler, Staff Writer
Senior Ella Wampler is a staff writer for Southpaw and Bearing news. She adores the 2017 remake of Murder on the Orient Express, ongoing inside jokes and consuming unreasonable amounts of caffeine.

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