The Kansas City school board, under heightened pressure to speed reforms, began in earnest Saturday to define the kind of superintendent it needs to help restore accreditation.
Interim superintendent Steve Green met with the board behind closed doors to talk about leadership for the weighty days ahead, board president Airick Leonard West said.
Both West and Green said they expect Green to be a candidate.
“Absolutely so,” said Green, whom the board hired as interim superintendent a week after John Covington announced Aug. 24 that he was resigning.
“Consistency and continuity, that’s what the district needs at this point now more than ever,” Green said before the meeting.
Kansas City Public Schools lost accreditation Jan. 1, which intensified what has been a collaboration with the state to improve student performance to meet more state standards.
“The board has recognized for two years that the status quo is not an option,” West said before the meeting. “We need a very intense focus on the specific areas of accreditation standards.”
Under current law, the district has until June 30, 2014, to regain accreditation before the state would have to directly intervene and change its leadership or dissolve the district. But numerous bills by lawmakers in Jefferson City threaten swifter interventions.
Regardless of what may be happening in the General Assembly, West said, it doesn’t change the mission or the urgency of the work in Kansas City schools. The district needs to be quick in monitoring progress and making changes in the classrooms.
“We recognize that to make the turnaround in the time frame needed, we will need to be pushing more authority down to the building level,” he said. “We need to talk about which reform strategies need to be emphasized in the short term and which need to be part of our long-term strategy.”
When he took the interim role, Green, a former director of the Kauffman Scholars program and a former superintendent of a subdistrict in New York City, said he would be interested in being superintendent.
The district had been in a turnaround process with the state for more than two years and was already in danger of losing its accreditation when test scores dipped in 2011.
A month after Covington’s resignation, the state school board voted to strip the district’s accreditation, effective Jan. 1.
Collaboration with the state has continued, however, and the district is carrying on with a transformation plan that was approved by the state. The district met three of 14 possible standards on the state’s annual performance report in 2011, a drop from four in 2010.
The district is projecting that it will meet at least five standards in the 2012 report, due this summer.