Deputy Chief Operations Officer

Industry: Facilities Management
Location: Pennsylvania - Philadelphia
Sector: School District/System
Search ID: 21-0404-16
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Thomas M. Dunn
Thomas M. Dunn
The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) has retained Helbling to conduct an executive search to secure a Deputy Chief Operations Officer (COO).

Position Summary 

The Deputy Chief Operations Officer provides the leadership, management, and vision necessary to ensure that the District has an effective and proactive approach to maintaining high-quality operations for a large system with competing demands. The Deputy COO is charged with overseeing a multitude of departmental goals in Transportation, Communications, Food Services, Facilities and Maintenance, Capital Programs, and Environmental Services with an operating budget of more than $500 million and a capital program budget of $250 to $500 million. 

Under the Chief Operations Officer’s leadership, the Deputy Chief Operations Officer will align resources and coordinate essential departmental tasks to provide all students with the necessary structures to focus on learning, including: providing clean, safe, welcoming facilities; giving students healthy and nutritious meals; transporting students safely and promptly; and creating and maintaining plans for the long-term sustainability of our buildings. The Deputy will execute a clear strategic vision and maintain a coordinated operational system that is grounded in leadership, clear goals for success, accountability for those goals, and high standards of customer service.

The successful candidate will lead with a collaborative energetic style, guided by the District’s mission to ensure that every child in Philadelphia has access to an excellent public school education.

Essential Functions

  • Leads the successful execution of all departmental goals within the Operations division, including Capital Programs, Environmental Operations, Facilities and Maintenance, Food Services, Real Estate, and Transportation, all functioning as one unit with results-oriented planning and coordination across teams.
  • Prepares the operating and capital budget and recommends alignment of resources to support departmental goals; ensures that the allocation of resources support the School District of Philadelphia goals and guardrails.
  • Establishes standard operating procedures to support policies developed by and retained by the Chief Operations Officer.
  • Establishes clearly defined and measured goals; ensures staff is accountable for achieving excellence using an approach that values cohesiveness, collaboration, and a student-centered mindset.
  • Creates a climate that promotes respect for others, embraces diversity as a strategic advantage, accepts alternate ideas and approaches, and adheres to the highest ethical standards and practices.
  • Communicates priorities and important information transparently and accurately to staff and schools.
  • Continuously measures and assesses the effectiveness of all processes within the operational departments, including developing and regularly tracking progress toward ambitious team goals that support student learning.
  • Creates the vision for a comprehensive, aligned talent management strategy, including building a strong and nimble team that realizes a commitment to attracting, retaining, recognizing, and developing talent across the organization.
  • Approves departmental presentations and reports prior to release outside of the Operations division.
  • Promotes and embodies the District’s core values and student-centered beliefs within the work of the division.
  • Performs other duties and responsibilities as assigned by the Chief Operations Officer.

About SDP

For forward-thinking administrators and educators, opportunities abound in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP). The SDP is committed to transforming the education opportunities offered to the city’s 200,000 school-aged children. The District seeks leaders who have a passion for working with schools, principals, and communities who are committed to ensuring all students achieve. With 19,000 employees and over 220 schools, serving the needs of all students and families in the city of Philadelphia requires creativity, commitment, and vision.


Located in Philadelphia, PA

Minimum Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  • Ten years of full-time, paid, professional experience in operations in a large organization, five of which have been in an administrative or supervisory capacity and included responsibility for performance analysis, budget planning, and oversight for departments such as Capital Programs, Environmental Operations, Facilities and Maintenance, Food Services, and Transportation.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities

Demonstrated Knowledge of:
  • Current principles, practices, and procedures of operations, management, and organization.
  • Principles and techniques related to strategies to increase the efficiency of operations.
  • Supervisory methods, and change management techniques.
Demonstrated Skill in:
  • Supervising a cadre of high-level professional personnel.
Demonstrated Ability to:
  • Initiate and direct strategic planning activities.
  • Plan, coordinate, and direct the activities of a large staff.
  • Analyze and resolve complex problems, make cogent recommendations, and effectively summarize and present data.
  • Handle a crisis.
  • Express ideas effectively, both orally and in writing.
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships.


The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties, and skills required of personnel so classified.


The School District of Philadelphia provides to all persons equal access to all categories of employment in this District, regardless of race, color, age, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, ancestry, national origin or handicap/disability, gender identity, or genetic information. Please refer to Board Policy 104 for further information regarding the District's commitment to Nondiscrimination in Employment Practices.

The School District of Philadelphia is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer.
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