Dr. Vitti is settling in the Detriot School District, and he took some high-up Duval County School District employees with him to fill his cabinet.
Detroit Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti is a couple of steps closer to finalizing his cabinet - a group of his trusted advisors he's described as mission driven and key to the district's rebirth.
The Free Press first reported on the people who will fill Vitti's cabinet a week ago. Two positions at the time had yet to be filled. And at the time, salaries weren't available.
The two new hires include Jason Rose, who will be senior director of research, evaluation, and analytics; and Beth Gonzalez, senior executive director of curriculum and instruction. Both come from Florida, with Gonzalez having worked with Vitti in the Duval County Public Schools district in Jacksonville, Fla.
Vitti, who took the reins of the Detroit district May 23, has been in the midst of a major restructuring of key staff in the central office - a process that is ongoing. But he said that even with all the changes underway, the district would not exceed what had been set aside for administrative costs. He previously was superintendent in the Florida district.
Detroit board member LaMar Lemmons said during the meeting - of the board's finance subcommittee - that Vitti is doing what the board has asked. It's also something the district's elected board pushed for often when the district was under the control of emergency managers.
"You've come in and you've hit the ground running," Lemmons said. "You've done in a matter of weeks what a series of emergency managers have not been able to do in eight consecutive years."
Here is Vitti's cabinet, with salaries included:
• Sharlonda Buckman, senior executive director of family and community engagement. Buckman previously was executive director of the Detroit Parent Network. Salary: $145,000
• Christine Burkett, senior executive director of information technology. Burkett previously was director of curriculum and instruction, data, technology and assessment at Old Redford Academy School District. Salary: $140,000
• Elizabeth Cutrona, senior executive director for strategic planning and project management. Cutrona previously was assistant superintendent in charge of strategic partnerships and planning in Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville. Salary: $145,000
• David Donaldson, senior executive director of talent. Donaldson, who will head the human resources department, was chief operating officer for Future Ready Columbus (Ohio). Previously, he was an associate chancellor at the now-dissolved Education Achievement Authority (EAA). $160,000
• Beth Gonzalez, senior executive director of curriculum and instruction. Gonzalez previously assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Duval County Public Schools. Salary: $160,000.
• Rod Hardamon, special projects. Hardamon is chairman of the Urge Development Group. He also has helped lead the transition efforts as the EAA dissolved and its schools and students returned to the Detroit district. Sallary: is being negotiated.
• Kristen Howard, executive director of compliance and special assistant to the superintendent. Howard was previously the executive director of compliance for the district. Salary: $140,000
• Phyllis Hurks-Hill, chief legal counsel. Vitti noted that her position has been posted for interviews. A new chief legal counsel will be named, and Hurks-Hill will help with the transition and remain on the legal team if she chooses. Salary: $155,000
• Bernadette Kakooza, inspector general. This position reports to the board. Kakooza was previously in that job. Salary: $140,000
• Alycia Meriweather, deputy superintendent of external partnerships and innovation. Meriweather served as interim superintendent of the district and prior to that, led the curriculum office. $180,000
• Jason Rose, senior executive director of research, evaluation and analytics. Rose was previously vice president at the Jacksonville (Fla.) Education Fund. Salary: $140,000.
• Tony Saunders, interim chief financial officer. Saunders previously was Wayne County’s chief restructuring and financial officer until he resigned in April to launch a turnaround and private equity firm. Prior to that, he was director of a turnaround firm that helped the City of Detroit through its bankruptcy. Salary: Sanders will be paid $25,000 a month as a contractor (the salary includes additional support personnel). Saunders won't receive health benefits.
• Luis Solano, chief operating officer. Solano previously was an associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction for the Collier County Public Schools in Naples, Fla. Salary: $195,000
• Felicia Venable, senior executive director of facilities, transportation, food service and maintenance. Venable previously was executive director of facilities in the district. Salary: $160,000
• Chrystal Wilson, interim senior executive director of communications and marketing. Wilson previously was deputy executive director of communications and press secretary. The senior executive position has been posted; Wilson is applying. Salary: $120,000
• Iranetta Wright, deputy superintendent of schools. Wright previously worked with Vitti as chief of schools for Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Fla. Salary: $190,000.
The Free Press