You can get whiplash following San Diego Unified after a while, especially when it comes to the central office. I constantly have to ask people for their new titles, which seem to change with the wind.

Now the school district is poised to reorganize its central offices again, scrapping “school improvement officers” who are assigned to elementary or secondary schools for “area superintendents” who will handle a geographic cluster of schools. Their offices might also move out to the schools, instead of being based at the San Diego Unified headquarters in University Heights.

The move would basically reverse changes made by former Superintendent Terry Grier, ostensibly to save money and improve supervision of the schools, and reinstate a more decentralized model that looks a lot more like what his predecessor Carl Cohn had designed. That fits into the school board philosophy of giving more power to school sites and paring back on decisions made at the top.

The reorganization is also supposed to save $5 million, largely by cutting back on out-of-classroom teachers who train fellow educators. That isn’t a totally new move: Grier got some grief from the teachers union for replacing resource teachers with new chiefs when he reorganized the office.

But school board President Richard Barrera said this would be different because the out-of-classroom teachers would go back to school sites and the school district could instead use that funding to tap talented teachers now working in classrooms to train fellow teachers over shorter periods. The money would pay for substitute teachers to temporarily take over their classrooms.

“We want to elevate these teachers and using their existing expertise — rather than having something designed through the central office,” Barrera said. “Somebody who’s actually practicing the job every day is probably going to be more relevant.”

The school board has given the green light to start advertising jobs for area superintendents, but many of the details are still being worked out.

— EMILY ALPERT

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