School Board considers teacher-led model for Reiche School

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PORTLAND — Reiche Elementary School is moving closer to becoming a teacher-led school.

The School Board on Tuesday night was scheduled to discuss the proposal for a group of teachers to act in place of a traditional school principal.

“I believe the Reiche staff has the maturity and cohesiveness to implement a teacher-led school,” Superintendent of Schools James Morse Sr. said in a letter to the board.

The concept was floated last spring, when Principal Marcia Gendron was reassigned to the East End Community School. Paul Yarnivich was assigned as temporary principal and an exploratory committee was formed to put together a proposal for a teacher-led school.

If the current plan is approved by the board, the teacher leaders would receive a stipend for their added duties, the total of which would not exceed a typical principal’s salary of $100,000.

Teacher leaders would teach half-time and take turns as administrators the other half of the time. They would share their classrooms with another teacher in a team-teaching approach, so some full-day students would have  more than one teacher.

“What we’ve found, is that with the right teacher, that works well,” Morse said.

The teachers will vote to choose their teacher leaders. All of the teachers at the school would participate in one of four committees, each charged with specific tasks, such as professional development and internal communications.

The school’s leadership team will be made up of two lead teachers, a central office representative and a parent, as well as the chairmen of the four teacher committees.

The lead teacher on duty will be responsible for tasks typically associated with the principal, such as discipline, meetings with parents, special education meetings and coordination with the district’s central office.

While the teacher-led model has been successful elsewhere, Morse said that as far as he is aware, Reiche will be the first school in the country where the teachers proposed changing from an administrator-led to a teacher-led school model.

“Typically, if you’re doing a (teacher-led) school from scratch, everyone who’s interested is applying to be a part of that,” he said.

Teachers who would rather work at an administrator-led school will be able to apply for a transfer to another Portland school. Morse said that while 84 percent of Reiche teachers voted to participate in the teacher-led model, no one has yet requested a transfer to another school.

Yarnivich will finish up his interim position and leave the district at the end of this school year.

If it is approved, the teacher-led program will have a comprehensive review in the spring of 2012 to determine if it is working.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.