MPS eliminates 5 high-level administrative positions, creates new Chief Innovations Officer

New officer will oversee lowest-performing schools, seek and administer key grants

MILWAUKEE – In a move to provide more direct and better support to the district’s lowest performing schools, Milwaukee Public Schools has hired a Chief Innovation Officer – while it also eliminates five other high-level administrative positions.

The changes are expected to result in a net reduction of administrative salaries.

On Thursday night, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors approved both the cabinet-level position and the woman who will hold it: Darienne Driver.

Driver, who is in the process of earning a doctorate in urban superintendency from Harvard University, will oversee the district’s lowest performing schools, its $20.4-million GE Foundation grant, its partnership alternative schools and the independent charter schools it authorizes.

She will also help the district aggressively seek out university partnerships, federal Race to the Top funding, a magnet school grant and a teacher evaluation grant.

Driver is currently the deputy chief of curriculum, instruction and professional development for the School District of Philadelphia. She was previously the deputy chief for empowerment schools in the Philadelphia district, where she oversaw lower-performing schools and significantly increased the number of schools meeting federal standards.

Driver holds two master’s degrees: one in education policy and management from Harvard and another in curriculum development from the University of Michigan.

“Darienne Driver is the right person to bring innovation to our schools that are in the greatest need of it,” MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said. “Some of our longest-struggling students have improved over the last year. Tenth grade test scores are up significantly. If we want to continue to move forward as a district, we must give our lowest-performing schools they support they need.”

The five Central Services administrative positions cut include one from each of the five regions into which MPS’ 160+ schools are divided.