The Chancellor Anthony J. Alvarado Central Files, 1983-1984 document the work of the Chancellor, the chief executive of the decentralized New York City school system. They comprise Series 1120 of the Board of Education Record Group, and are part of the subgroup of records of the Chancellor. They have been assigned accession number 06-027.
The series consists of 41.5 cubic feet of records. They were organized and inventoried by the Municipal Archives in 2006 in a project supported by the New York State Archives under its Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund.
Anthony J. Alvarado was appointed to the position of Chancellor after a career in the New York City schools in which he gained a reputation as an innovative reformer.
Born in the South Bronx in 1942, Alvarado attended Catholic schools: St. Anselm’s School and Fordham Preparatory School. He earned a B.A. in English from Fordham University in 1960 followed by an M.A. also from Fordham. In 1966 he began teaching English at Junior High School 38 in the Bronx in 1966, moving soon to James Monroe High School where he taught one year. Next, Alvarado worked in a series of administrative positions at the central board’s Center for Innovation, the East Harlem Title III program, and an experimental college opportunity program. In 1972 he was appointed Principal of PS 235, in District 9 in the Bronx., where he served one year until appointed as Community Superintendent of District 4 on the upper East Side of Manhattan.
As Community Superintendent of District 4, Alvarado instituted a number of widely recognized experiments. Most notable were a series of alternative schools, especially at the junior high school level, with specialties such as environmental science, maritime studies, communication arts, and human services. Teachers were encouraged to develop new programs and students were permitted to apply to the school programs that interested them. Additional funds were sought from federal agencies and foundations to support some of these programs. District 4 also gained a reputation for meeting educational needs by over-expending its budget. Overall, the district’s innovations under Alvarado’s leadership were generally credited with a significant improvement in school atmosphere and in student achievement.
Upon the retirement of Chancellor Frank Macchiarola in February 1983, the Board of Education began a selection process for his successor. Among the final candidates were Anthony Alvarado and Deputy Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Wagner was selected, but in late April the New York State Commissioner of Education, Gordon Ambach, refused to certify him, because he lacked the required professional certification in educational administration. The Board then offered the appointment to Alvarado, who assumed the position in May 1983.
Chancellor Alvarado’s efforts as advocate for the school system and shaper of educational reforms were overshadowed by a series of personal financial scandals that emerged publicly in March 1984. A series of investigations revealed that during his years as District Superintendent he had borrowed large sums from subordinates, authorized extra pay and promotions for some of them, possibly as “payment” for the loans, and engaged in other financial irregularities. As additional charges were gradually added, the Board first suspended Alvarado, in late March and then accepted his resignation on May 11, just prior to a scheduled hearing on the charges against him.
While Alvarado’s improper financial activities had undermined his ability to serve as an administrator, his skills as an educator, and his ability to inspire teachers, continued to be recognized. In June 1987, District 2 appointed him as Community Superintendent, a position he held until 1998 when he took a position as superintendent of instruction in the San Diego public school system.
Scope and Content
The series comprises the records of the Chancellor for the school year July 1983 to June 1984 and consists primarily of records created by and for Chancellor Anthony J. Alvarado. It contains correspondence, memoranda, reports, contracts, audits, circulars, referrals, and executive orders.
The Central Files of the Chancellor were maintained on a school year basis (July 1 to June 30) by the Chancellor’s immediate staff. While appointments and retirements of Chancellors normally occurred at the beginning and end of school years, they did not always do so.
Chancellor Alvarado was appointed on May 1, 1983; as a result some records from his term of office are included in the records of Chancellor Frank J. Macchiarola for the school year 1983-1984. Alvarado was suspended in March 1984 and resigned in May 1984; as a result, the Alvarado series also includes materials of Nathan Quinones as acting chancellor through the end of May and as the appointed chancellor in June.
While the Chancellor’s Central Files include materials documenting many aspects of his relationships with board members, administrators, teachers, public officials, citizens’ groups, and the general public, the full record would include materials from other administrative offices and the files of board members.
Chancellor Anthony J. Alvarado’s Central Files for 1983-1984 were maintained by his office as a single series with a distinctive structure. The various categories of records, such as correspondence with state and city agencies, memos to the board members, general correspondence, files on school districts, etc., were organized in an alphabetical sequence, with the arrangement of each category determined separately. Essentially the same structure was used by the Chancellor’s staff for each school year from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s.
The structure of the central files is most clearly seen in the following table:
Arranged first by level of government: New York City, then New York State, then United States. Within levels, arranged alphabetically by specific agency. Note: additional correspondence between the chancellor and public officials is included in the category “Chancellor’s Correspondence.”]
Correspondence with non-governmental organizations. Arranged alphabetically by name of association.
Board of Education. Bureaus, Divisions, Offices
Arranged first by type of internal agency: bureaus, then divisions, then offices. Within types, arranged alphabetically by the name of the division or office. Within each division or office, usually arranged chronologically, but sometimes by special project or subdivision. [Note; similar material is also included in “Chancellor’s Correspondence.”]
Board of Education.
Arranged in two groups: Memos to the Board, which are addressed to all board members; and Board members correspondence, which is to or from individual members of the board. The Memos to the Board are arranged chronologically; the individual correspondence is arranged alphabetically by the name of the board member.
Arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Correspondents with multiple letters have their own folders. After the alphabetical sequence are special categories, such as “confidential,” “suggestions,” and “congratulatory letters.”
Chancellor. [other subcategories]
Arranged alphabetically by type of document or subject, such as invitations, meetings, memos, regulations, and staff. Within types, arranged chronologically, except staff files are first arranged alphabetically by name of staff member.
Arranged numerically by Community School District. Within each district, arranged chronologically. Several folders relating to district reports and meetings follow the numerical sequence.
Organized by types of financial operation: grants, budget, audits, programs, reimbursable programs, and state aid. Chronological within types.
Arranged by types of legal situations, such as charges, decisions, grievances, legislation, litigation, Office of Legal Services, and suspensions of students and teachers. Within types, arranged alphabetically or chronologically.
Organized by types of document. “Personnel Memos” are arranged numerically; resumes are arranged alphabetically.
Press releases and clippings, arranged chronologically
Organized in three main subcategories:
The first consists of files on relating to school operations. These are arranged alphabetically by topic.
Second is a set of files on school programs, relating to educational matters, also arranged alphabetically by topic.
Third is a sequence of files on individual schools, arranged first by level of school (elementary, intermediate, junior high, high school), then by borough, and then by individual school (numerically for elementary, intermediate, and junior high; alphabetically for high schools).
Arranged alphabetically by the name of each teacher. At the end are a few files relating to general policies such as sabbaticals, tenure, etc.
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