Districts in New York City and Louisville to Take Part in National Initiative to Strengthen Educational Leadership

March 25, 2002

Districts in New York City and Louisville to Take Part in National Initiative to Strengthen Educational Leadership

NYC Community District 10 in the Bronx, and Jefferson County Public School District in Kentucky, Join 10 Other Districts to Pioneer Leadership Policies and Practices

New York, NY, March 25, 2002 – The Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds have awarded grants to Community School District 10, located in the Bronx, New York, and the Jefferson County Public School District, in Louisville, KY, to participate in a national effort to strengthen educational leadership. They join 10 other school districts, located in states that are similarly committed to improving school leadership, that have been selected to take part in the Funds’ Leadership for Educational Achievement in Districts (LEAD) initiative.

The one-year grants – $721,000 to District 10, and $1 million to Jefferson County Public Schools – are renewable annually at the Funds’ discretion for up to four additional years, provided the districts demonstrate significant progress toward achieving their leadership improvement goals. The 12 districts participating in the LEAD initiative are mostly urban school systems enrolling large numbers of low-income students. Their collective goal is to redefine leadership in order to raise the performance of all students and identify ways to influence practices in school districts across the country.

“By adding New York City’s District 10 and Louisville’s Jefferson County Public Schools to our LEAD initiative, we are looking at addressing the leadership crisis in two of the most complex urban school districts in the country,” said Mary Lee Fitzgerald, the Funds’ director of education programs. “Skillful leadership is necessary to rally entire districts around the goal of improved learning for all students. These districts will give our LEAD network fresh opportunities to learn first-hand the educational challenges that are enormously important to the rest of urban America.”

Community School District 10
District 10, the largest of 32 community districts in New York City, is situated in the northwest corner of the Bronx, serving more than 41,000 students in 49 schools. Working closely with the New York City Board of Education and with the New York State Education Department, the district will implement innovative changes in the recruitment, development and retention of educational leaders to improve learning for all students.

“We are dedicated to developing leaders that are knowledgeable in instruction and that strive to build an environment that places students' learning at the center of teaching, ” said New York City Schools Chancellor Harold O. Levy. “District 10 Superintendent Irma Zardoya and her team know the importance of good leadership to successful schools. I thank the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds for making this investment in our future and for recognizing the critical importance of leadership in public education.”

Specifically, District 10 will work in the following areas:

  • Local Policies and Administrative Practices: work with the Chancellor’s office and the state to gain greater discretion in the hiring of principals and to explore incentives.
  • Partnerships and Community Engagement: expand partnerships with universities, business and civic leaders, and parents to share accountability for student learning and development.
  • Student Growth and Development: focus all resources on effective teaching strategies in literacy and mathematics.
  • Organizational Capacity: improve the abilities of leaders using institutes, residencies, peer review, networks, and induction programs.
  • Distributive Leadership: differentiate and distribute leadership roles and responsibilities to strengthen professional practice.
  • Accountability: create professional standards and measures to identify and improve effective leadership practices that improve student outcomes.

“When I became Superintendent of Community School District 10,” stated District 10’s Superintendent Irma Zardoya, “we developed a vision that was based on the convictions that all children can learn and that every student is entitled to an excellent education. The challenge for our large district is to help our leaders maximize their focus on students and their work instead of the ‘administrivia’ that attempts to overtake their day. Because leadership of the kind we desire is difficult to find, we need to recruit individuals early in their careers, identify those who possess potential and interest, and offer professional development that immerses them in their own learning. We expect, with the help of the LEAD grant, to find greater staff stability, engagement in reflection, and professional development – and increased student achievement.”

Jefferson County Public School District
The district, located in Louisville, is the 26th largest in the country, serving 95,000 students from Pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade. The LEAD grant will support the district’s five-year plan to ensure that current and future principals are prepared to support high levels of student achievement at every school.

“Strengthening school leadership makes a significant difference for our students,” said Dr. Stephen Daeschner, Jefferson County District superintendent. “School leaders are a critical factor in reform efforts and in raising results for all. By improving the ways we recruit, train and support them, we can better achieve our goal of getting students in school, keeping them in school, and teaching them to proficiency.”

Specifically, the District will work in the following areas:

  • Local Policies and Administrative Practices: identify successful teachers and other potential school leaders; provide targeted preparation and job-embedded programs, internships, and mentoring focused on instructional leadership; and revise principal evaluation to connect it to standards and student achievement.
  • Partnerships and Community Engagement: expand and sustain partnerships with universities, businesses, civic and cultural organizations, and parents to increase student learning and reduce the achievement gap.
  • Student Growth and Development: improved principal and teacher performance based on high standards, careful analysis and use of data, and redeployment of resources to facilitate student learning.
  • Organizational Capacity: improve leaders’ abilities through carefully planned organizational learning.
  • Accountability: establish new professional performance standards and a revised principal evaluation system to identify and institutionalize leadership practices that produce desirable student outcomes.

State-district partnerships
Each LEAD district is located in one of the 15 states taking part in the Wallace Funds’ companion program, State Action for Education Leadership Project (SAELP), launched by the Funds in 2001 to encourage comprehensive state-level policy reforms to improve school and district leadership. In December, following a review of project plans by an independent panel, Kentucky was one of the 15 states to receive $250,000 implementation grants to carry out their proposals. The state-district partnership is the centerpiece of LEADERS Count, a five-year, $150-million commitment by the Wallace Funds to place quality leadership at the core of school reform and to build a new field of knowledge that helps improvements spread on a broader scale. The objectives of LEADERS Count are: to attract and place a broader pool of able candidates for school leadership; to strengthen the abilities of principals and superintendents to improve learning; and to create conditions that allow principals and superintendents to perform as effective leaders.

“For too long, education leadership has been a missing link in achieving academic excellence for all children,” said M. Christine DeVita, president of the Wallace Funds. “To make the needed changes in the recruitment, preparation and retention of superior leaders, reform has to address both district practices and state regulations and policies. LEADERS Count is intended to discover and adopt new ways of strengthening leadership, and to have those changes improve the prospects of children in states and districts across the country.”


For Community School District 10: Bruce Irushalmi, Director of Planning and Public Affairs, 718-329-8125, birusha@nycboe.net
For the Jefferson County Public School District: Lauren Roberts, Public Information Officer, 502-485-3357; lrobert1@jefferson.k12.ky.us
For the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds: Jessica Schwartz, Senior Communications Officer, 212-251-9711; jschwartz@wallacefunds.org