- Vista Ridge High School
D49 Leadership Transition
In July, the District 49 Board of Education unanimously appointed Peter Hilts as the Chief Executive Officer to lead the district for the 2022-2023 school year.
This action came after the two other chief officers, Brett Ridgway, Chief Business Officer, and Pedro Almeida, Chief Operations Officer, resigned and took other positions. Looking for a stable transitional plan, the board moved Hilts from his Chief Education Officer position to the new CEO position.
“We are in a time of significant transition,” Hilts said to the members of the board of education.
This interim shift to a single leadership position, will require adjusting the current D49 organizational chart. The Service and Leadership Team (SLT) is made up of 24 people that directly reported to the three chief officers in the previous model. With a single chief, that span would include too many positions in a single tier.
“That’s not sustainable, everyone knows by common sense that’s not realistic, or rational,” Hilts said.
With only weeks before school started, Hilts and the board of education agreed to create a transitional organizational chart to reduce the number of direct reports to 12. The new org chart includes new positions, consolidated positions, and reassigning some positions under different supervision.
“This is an attempt to provide access for senior administrators, while creating a manageable, short-term span of oversight,” Hilts said.
Hilts appointed existing staff into three new interim leadership roles, observing the importance of starting the school year with leaders in place over following rigid hiring timelines. The district may make those positions permanent following an official hiring process that will begin later in the semester.
“We will post all three executive director positions in December and commence a hiring process early in the new year—unless the board adopts a different organizational structure that changes these positions,” Hilts said.
The board of education is currently working with a third party to evaluate D49’s three-chief model. The board will decide if this organizational setup is the right fit, or it could decide to move to a single chief, possibly a superintendent, or a two-chief model. This decision is scheduled to be final by the board’s annual planning summit in February.
In the meantime, D49 will implement the new organizational chart, which the board of education unanimously approved on Wednesday, July 20.
“This is a transitional org chart,” Hilts said. “This is not concrete, this isn’t even a concrete mix. This is modeling clay. We know we’re going to come back around and make some changes.”
The temporary org chart is still set up with obvious similarities to D49’s current model.
“This could support a return to a three chief officer model,” Hilts said. “You could deprecate the chief executive position back to a chief education officer, and unwind some of these shifts. This was intentionally designed so that it could support three configurations. If the board decides to go forward with a single leader, as a superintendent in January, we have a pretty good start on that org chart. If you want to go forward with a two chief officer model, it’s pretty obvious how that would split left and right (education and business/operations). If you want to go forward with a three chief officer model you have some natural breaks.”
“I’ve spoken with everyone on the chart that is impacted, they are all willing and supportive. They understand there will be some additional work,” Hilts said.
In this temporary model there are six people on the education side, two executive directors and four zone leaders.
“I’m confident about every one of the individuals,” Hilts said. “I have worked with all of them for a minimum of five years, with the exception of our newly appointed Executive Director of Learning Services, Lisa Fillo. But I’m absolutely confident because she is a long-time, excellent leader in District 49.”
One change from the previous model, the Director of Applied and Advanced Learning will report through the learning services department during the transition.
For the operational side, a new position was created, Interim Executive Director of Facilities and Operations. Lou Fletcher, current Culture and Services Director, will serve in this role.
“It is intended to substantially, but not completely, backfill Mr. Almeida’s leadership in operations,” Hilts said. “You notice it’s a little different. We’ve included the Purchasing and Contract Manager and the Community and Facility Planning Manager.”
Almeida said, “For a temporary interim organization, I absolutely support and think this is something that will work and support the functions of the district. The role that this intern executive director can provide is that top cover and organizing role. Most of the department is going to operate very independently as they have because of their independent type of functions, particularly in this interim timeframe. I don’t see any kind of significant disruption happening within this operations world with these directors.”
On the business side of the chart, a new position was also created, but it is more of a consolidation of positions. The interim Executive Director for People and Culture will take on the leadership role of human resources as well as payroll and risk management. Current Director of Human Resources Paul Anderson will serve in this role.
One new addition to this chain will be the Human Resources Manager for Culture and Compliance.
Also on the business side, the Director of Finance, Ron Sprinz, and the Director of Data and Performance, Matt Barett, will directly report to the CEO, for now. The district will soon search for a Chief Financial Officer, which will then oversee these two positions along with other business functions.
“School finance is as technical as health care, as technical as engineering,’ Hilts said. “It requires specialized training, vocabulary, relationships, understanding of statutes and regulations. It is such a technically precise position, that we need to take our time to find that individual for the chief financial officer.”
Sprinz will handle both the finance and budget roles, until a CFO is hired.
Director of Safety and Security, as well as Director of Communications are still direct reports to the CEO.
This temporary organizational chart, even with the additions and pay level increase for a few positions, will save the district more than $200,000.
“We are not in any regard being extravagant or exercising poor stewardship. We are actually asking more of ourselves,” Hilts said.
As we prepare a document responding to Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ) what questions would you like to see addressed related to the transitional leadership model?
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Chief Executive Officer
- Executive Assistant for Education
- Executive Assistant for Business & Operations
- Executive Director of Learning Services
- Director of Applied and Advanced Learning
- Executive Director of Individualized Education
- Falcon Zone Leader
- iConnect Zone Leader
- POWER Zone Leader
- Sand Creek Zone Leader
- Director of Data & Performance
- Admin Assistant
- Tech Service Manager – Infrastructure
- Tech Service Manager – End Users
- Director Finance
- Interim Director of People & Culture
- Admin Assistant
- HR Manager
- HR Manager
- HR Manager
- HR Manager for Culture & Compliance
- Risk & Benefits Manager
- Payroll Manager
- Director of Security & Safety
- Director of Communications
- Interim Executive Director of Facilities & Operations
- Director of Nutrition Services
- Director of Transportation
- Grounds Maintenance Group Manager
- Building Maintenance Group Manager
- Community & Facility Planning Manager
- Purchasing & Contract Manager
- Facility Project Manager