Tuesday, April 14, 2015

TOP STORY >> District to name its chief

Leader senior staff writer

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board could hire and introduce a superintendent to lead the district forward toward operating on its own in the 2017-18 when it meets at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Jacksonville City Hall, according to Daniel Gray, board president.

From a dozen applicants, the board chose Arkansas Education Department Deputy Superintendent James Tony Wood and Little Rock School District Associate Superintendent Marvin Burton as finalists for the job.

Wood met and dined with the board Monday night, and Burton is slated to do the same Wednesday.

“We’ll announce something Thursday,” Gray said Tuesday. After meeting in special session, the board will either offer the job to one of the two men or announce the next step, perhaps another round of interviews.

Former Beebe Superintendent Kieth Williams, lead consultant on the McPherson & Jacobs team searching for qualified candidates, told the board last week that Wood stood alone as the person who satisfied the extensive criteria the board had set for its new superintendent.

Wood, 64, served as commissioner of the state Education Department for several months following the resignation of Tom Kimbrell.

As such, Wood served as a one-man school board for the Pulaski County Special School District, which the state took over in 2011, and is familiar with many aspects of PCSSD and the breakaway JNP school district. Johnny Key, appointed by new Gov. Asa Hutchinson, took over as commissioner March 25.

Burton, 50, currently second in command for Dexter Suggs in the Little Rock School District, served as interim superintendent between the resignation of Morris Holmes on March 22, 2013, and the arrival of Suggs. Burton has been with LRSD for 26 years, serving as a teacher, assistant principal and principal.

At its April meeting, the board hired Scott Richardson as its attorney for desegregation matters currently before Federal District Judge D. Price Marshall. Richardson was previously involved in the desegregation case as a deputy attorney general.

It also contracted Charles Stein, currently head of the state Education Department’s Academic Facilities and Transportation Division, to oversee JNP’s planning for the state matching facilities partnership program and to oversee the district’s building program.