by Max Brantley
I was just about to pack up my computer and head to the airport. For three weeks, Gerard and Leslie and David and Lindsey and Doug will be picking up slack for me here. Don't hesitate to write or call them. And they'll be checking my e-mail, too.
But I can't let this slide. The Little Rock School District, nearly friendless and shedding more every day, took a major positive step last night by adopting a plan to shake up the district to improve student achievement. Most who worked in the strategic planning process thought it would also mean a transfer of spending and employment from the overstocked administrative ranks to the classroom.
Superintendent Linda Watson has another idea in at least one case. She's trying to add a new deputy superintendent to the ranks of six-figure administrators downtown. Baker Kurrus has objected. He won't be alone. This is exactly the wrong foot on which to start the project. The subject could come up at a Board meeting April 6. Watson's leadership has been criticized from just about every segment of the district. If she can't implement the new strategic plan without hiring a deputy, the question that first should be addressed is whether leading a strategic reordering of the district is too much to expect of a superintendent. And if it is, what exactly is the superintendent being paid to do?
From Baker Kurus
To: School Board, Superintendent
The motion to approve the strategic plan did not include any reference to hiring of a deputy superintendent. I was not aware of that being an issue until this morning. It should have been explicitly stated, and was not. Any contract for such a position would need to come to the board at such time as an actual hire is proposed.
In approving the strategic plan, I relied on the superintendent's statement that the only changes were those outlined in red and those discussed last night.
If the issue of a deputy needs to be discussed, then I am certainly amenable, but I do not consider that to have been approved last night.
From Linda Watson
To: School Board
In talking with each of you, it was suggested, by some of you, that the deputy superintendent’s position needed to be included in the strategic plan. I requested the position to assist with the academic component. It was presented on the cover page of the document with the information on the Strategic Plan. If it needs to be approved separately, no problem.