Leslie Peacock sends along this report from the meeting:
A small crowd let up great big cheer tonight as the School Board voted 6-1 to hire Dr. Dexter Suggs as the district's new superintendent. Suggs was the favorite of the parents, teachers and other advisory groups, board member Jody Carreiro, who made the motion to hire Suggs, said afterward, and he said the concensus on the choice bode well for success.
Michael Nellums cast the only nay vote. He and Dr. Walter Milton, another candidate whose choice as a finalist was controversial, are friends.
After the vote, the board made remarks, all thanking board president Dianne Curry for her work. Curry praised Suggs and said the district "can't go anywhere but up." Board member Greg Adams added that, "We are ready for a new day. We're going to go with it and we're going to do great."
Waiting for the board to come back from executive session was a small group of parents from Roberts Elementary School who want the district to build a new middle school in West Little Rock. Jennifer Stephens, one of the Roberts parents, said "we feel like this board has made a step toward the community" with the hire, "and the community has moved toward the board."
Cathy Koehler, the president of the Little Rock Education Association, was thrilled at the selection, calling it a "great day." She said Suggs was by far the best among the candidates, one who had "come up through the ranks" as a teacher, principal and chief of staff for the Indianapolis School District. He is a Milken National Educator Award winner. Suggs holds a doctorate of education in organizational leadership from Indiana Wesleyan University, a master's degree in education administration supervision from Indiana University-Purdue University, a master's degree in education in curriculum and instruction from Wesleyan and a bachelor of science degree from Southern Illinois University.
Curry said she'd called Suggs on the phone and he'd accepted the job. She said they haven't figured out when Suggs will start, but she said she had invited him to come to Little Rock on March 14 for the district's facilities meeting. Carreiro said he expects Suggs will visit regularly and that an interim superintendent will have to be named in the meantime. A committee would be formed to oversee the process.