Holmes the one? | Arkansas Blog

Holmes the one?



Morris Holmes will be the LRSD's interim superintendent, replacing Linda Watson, Cynthia Howell reports in this morning's Dem-Gaz (subscription required).

Melanie Fox, who was not Howell's source for the story, declined to confirm Holmes' selection, but said the board knows who it wants to appoint and the board's executive session tonight to vote on the interim will be short.

Holmes, a former teacher in the Little Rock School District and employee of the Department of Education, was interim superintendent in 2003-04. He served as superintendent in New Orleans from 1993 to 1998, but left amid criticism that a rise in student test scores during his tenure were found to be "statistically impossible" by a panel of education experts.

Asked if Holmes were the best the LRSD could do, given those circumstances, Fox said the board had "lots of viable people" to consider for the interim job, that it was important to reach consensus and that "it's only five and a half months." Fox said the board plans to have a new superintendent in place by July 3.

The executive session will follow a regular session starting at 5 p.m. at which personnel changes ("nothing out of the ordinary") will be made. The board will then vote on a resolution (see jump) on how it will proceed in its search and hear a presentation by the search firm McPherson and Jacobson.

Fox said the board wants to use a hybrid strategy to find a new superintendent, rather than just turning the task over to a national search firm. "The community is starved for engagement," Fox said. She said the board is considering a number of ways to get the public involved in the selection, including town halls and online input. "I think it's important that we get it right."

Tonight's meeting will be televised on public access channels.


WHEREAS, it is the responsibility of the Little Rock S
chool District Board of
Education to hire a new superintendent and;
WHEREAS, the Board and the Community will benefit from a search process
which includes significant opportunities for Community input regarding the selection
process; and

WHEREAS, the Board must act expeditiously to establish a process for the
selection of a new superintendent who will take office on or before the beginning of the
2011-2012 school year; and

WHEREAS, the Board recognizes the value of Board members working
collaboratively in an effort to reach consensus about the future leadership of the LRSD;

WHEREAS, the LRSD has in place a strategic plan which has been unanimously
endorsed by the Board and Community.


1. By the end of January, 2011, the Board will determine the most important
characteristics which should be possessed by a new superintendent and will post a
vacancy announcement. Those characteristics and attributes will include at least the

A broad understanding of current best practices in academic instruction;

A history of improving the academic achievement of NSLA, ESL and other
groups of students who have historically had less opportunity to achieve at high

Expertise and experience with K-12 curriculum;

Expertise and experience with financial and budgeting issues sufficient to
address the financial concerns of the LRSD;

Leadership capable of bringing out the best in people and establishing strong
personal relationships;

An eye for talent and the ability to put the right people in the right places for the
greatest benefit of the LRSD students;

A willingness and ability to review and, if necessary, change LRSD's
organizational structure to make it as efficient and effective as possible;

The ability to build bridges and to work to bring the Board, the schools, teachers,
parents, students and the Community together to improve public education;

Character, integrity, and the willingness to be held accountable for his or her job
performance and to hold others accountable as well; and

The ability to plan an effective course of action and carry out the plan to
2. The Board will immediately establish an Advisory Committee to work with the Board
to help establish community input, to assist in the development of screening criteria,
and to assist in the development of interview questions.

3. The Board, with the assistance of the Advisory Committee, will conduct community
forums so citizens will be able to share their thoughts and opinions on the
background, skills, experience, personal qualities and characteristics the Board
should be seeking.

4. The Board will manage the search process, but will engage a search firm to assist
and guide the Board to ensure that the Board has the opportunity to consider the
broadest, most diverse and most capable group of candidates possible.

Approved and adopted this 13th day of January, 2011.
________________________________ ________________________________
Melanie Fox, President Michael Nellums, Secretary


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