Tuesday, December 06, 2016

TOP STORY >> JNPSD hires Duffie as its next top boss

Leader senior staff writer

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board on Monday picked Assistant Superintendent Bryan Duffie, 46, to lead the district over the next three years, starting July 1.

He was offered the job by a 6-0 vote, with board secretary Carol Miles absent.

Duffie has followed creation of the new district from Jonesboro and wanted to be involved in the process, he said.

“It is just an opportunity to be involved in this community-based effort, some of it unprecedented,” he said. He’s impressed by the community’s support of the district, he said. “You don’t always see that everywhere. The community is coming to us to volunteer.”

“We want this to be one of those school districts of choice,” Duffie said. “We’ll develop programs, students and the community as a whole. We’ll build a great program for all the kids.”

One key to that? “Hire the right person for the right position to have a positive impact. There’s been so much support among the staff—if we stay on that path we’ll be all right.”


Going forward, Duffie identified facilities as the biggest thing to tackle. He said the other assistant superintendent, Jeremy Owoh, would be the point man to make academic programs more effective by training the teachers.

Duffie said he knew when he took the assistant superintendent’s job in March that Wood would retire at the end of this school year, and he said he hoped to compete for the job for which he was chosen Monday.

He called the uniqueness of the opportunity of being part of molding the brand new system intriguing. “I really thought that if I had an opportunity to be part of that, I would want to do that,” Duffie said.

Some details have yet to be worked out, but Duffie and the board agreed in principle on a contract that pays about $160,000 a year and provides some moving expenses. Duffie’s wife and two sons live in the Jonesboro area, where he worked as superintendent of the Westside Consolidated School District for five years.

At the end of this school year his family will join him in Jacksonville, where he’s been house-hunting.


JNPSD doesn’t require the superintendent to live in the district, but Duffie, who says community is the key to a successful school district, said he will move to Jacksonville soon.

Five people applied for the job, but only Duffie and Mansfield District Superintendent Robert Ross met the requirement of working for five years as a superintendent and advancing to the interview phase.

Wood, the current superintendent, said it was obvious since Duffie was hired last spring that he could be a strong candidate for the job when Wood retired.

Wood said, “I felt his eventual hiring (to succeed me) was a possibility. I feel real positive that this district is going to progress down the road at a rapid pace.”

He said he believes Duffie, with whom he has worked closely since March launching the new district, “has the can do, the want to do and the will do,” of a successful leader.

Duffie began work July 1 as assistant superintendent for support services and oversees transportation, maintenance, child nutrition, technology, security, health services and finance, according to the district’s Chief of Staff Phyllis Stewart.

“Dr. Duffie has been involved in the daily operation of the district and will not require months to get up to speed,” Wood said.

“We’ve had the pleasure to see him at work, his résumé is very impressive, we’ve worked with him the first few weeks of the year,” said school board president Daniel Gray. “He’s a communicator and a people person,” Gray said.

The board especially valued the importance of a smooth transition, his tutelage working with Wood and his work building up staff helped smooth the way, Gray said.

Gray said lots of challenges lay ahead for the new superintendent “to get from where we are to where we want to be.”

“The district needs to achieve unitary status; we want to be competitive, academically. We want to be the district of choice, building new schools, attracting new students and pushing them,” Gray said

Duffie was superintendent of the Westside Consolidated School District at Jonesboro from 2010-2016. Before that he was middle school and high school principal there since 2005. For a dozen years before that, he worked for North Little Rock High School-East Campus.