Key still not taking questions on sacking of Kurrus, issues news release | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Key still not taking questions on sacking of Kurrus, issues news release

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2016 at 9:08 AM

click to enlarge IN CHARGE: Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Education Commissioner Johnny Key, shown in file photo, have signaled a turnover of Little Rock schools to the Walton-backed "reform" movement. - TWITTER / ASA HUTCHINSON
  • TWITTER / ASA HUTCHINSON
  • IN CHARGE: Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Education Commissioner Johnny Key, shown in file photo, have signaled a turnover of Little Rock schools to the Walton-backed "reform" movement.
State Education Commissioner Johnny Key issued a news release today on his abrupt removal of Baker Kurrus as Little Rock school superintendent and appointment of Michael Poore of Bentonville to succeed him.

There's no indication yet that Key intends to take public questions on the firing. His news release reveals no details on Poore's employment contract. Kurrus made $150,000.

The news release spoke kindly of Kurrus but described Poore as the "right leader" for next steps in the district. I note he cited Poore's ability to develop relationships with the "fine arts community." In Bentonville, that means Walton. And that's what this is all about. Don't be misled by Key's flowery — and cowardly — news release. It is ironic Key said Kurrus had "restored trust," which he has now blown to smithereens.

The governor's office, which certainly was fully involved in this firing, has so far refused a comment on the development.

Among questions I'd like to ask Johnny Key: Is he applying for an opening as executive director of the Walton Family Foundation. He's certainly been earning brownie points.

Poore did make himself available to press today. In Bentonville. Because, after all, that's first priority, not the 26,000 kids in Little Rock and their families deprived of democratic control of their school district. The release:

Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key announced today that Michael Poore has been named the Little Rock School District superintendent effective July 1.

Poore is currently the superintendent of the Bentonville School District, a position he has held since June 2011. As superintendent, Poore developed a new strategic plan that provides direction for all schools and manages an annual operating budget of $139 million.

During his tenure, the Bentonville district implemented a Response to Intervention system, which resulted in improved achievement scores. Poore oversaw the implementation of a “Leader in Me” Stephen Covey program at the district’s largest at-risk school, resulting in one of the best growth scores of any school in the district. He also developed and implemented a Center for Advanced Professional Studies program that resulted in Ignite professional career development centers for project-based learning. Through the centers, students are placed in real-life college and career options, connected to internships and are prepared for opportunities beyond high school.

“A year ago Baker Kurrus was willing to take on an enormous task, and what he has accomplished since taking the reins last May has set a solid foundation for the future,” Key said. “He has restored trust, empowered educators, and improved communication and accountability. Under Baker’s leadership there has been a renewed focus on teaching and learning. He has led the district in preparing for the future in the areas of facilities and finances. He was the right person to lead LRSD during a critical time of uncertainty. Michael Poore is a strong instructional leader who will build on the foundation that Baker has established. As an administrator, Mike has developed initiatives through which educators, administrators and communities have worked collaboratively to impact student achievement. He is the right person to lead LRSD in the next steps toward achieving academic excellence throughout the district.”

Prior to serving as superintendent at Bentonville, Poore was the deputy superintendent and chief academic officer for Colorado Springs School District 11 in Colorado Springs, Colo., from July 2007 to June 2011. In this role, Poore helped lead the district in improving academic performance as the district’s at-risk student population increased. During his tenure, the National School Boards Association recognized the district as one of the top districts in the country for its use of technology in education. The Colorado Department of Education recognized the district as one of the top three Response to Intervention sites in the state and as one of four districts in 2009 that impacted dropout rates and improved graduation rates.

Poore also established key community partnerships, including relationships with the fine arts community, business community, higher education and the military. He co-developed Project Destiny in an effort to address the district’s declining enrollment. This led to a plan to provide incentives to sites that increased enrollment.

Poore led the facility realignment effort involving nine buildings. That initiative saved the district an initial $3 million and provided greater options for students and families. He implemented a dropout retrieval program and a five-year dual-enrollment program that allowed students to be enrolled in the district while taking college classes.

Prior to his work at Colorado Springs School District 11, Poore was the superintendent at the Sheridan School District in Sheridan, Colo., from June 2003 to June 2007. During his tenure at the district, Poore succeeded in removing the district from the Colorado Academic Watch list in only two years, turning around the district that had declining enrollment and test scores in addition to low morale.

Poore’s previous work history includes serving as the executive director of assessment, research and technology support at Colorado Springs School District 11 from May 2002 to June 2003; adjunct professor at the University of Phoenix at Colorado Springs from April 2000 to June 2003; principal at Mitchell High School, District 11 in Colorado Springs from August 1997 to May 2002; assistant principal at Doherty High School, District 11 at Colorado Springs from August 1996 to June 1997; business manager and athletic director at Mitchell High School, District 11 at Colorado Springs from June 1994 to August 1996; history teacher and head basketball coach at Doherty High School, District 11 at Colorado Springs from June 1987 to June 1994; and history teacher and coach at Wasson High School, District 11 at Colorado Springs from August 1984 to June 1987.

Poore received a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in history and teacher education) from Colorado State University at Fort Collins, Colo., Master of Arts (majoring in curriculum and instruction and educational leadership) from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and an educational specialist degree from Harding University at Searcy.

He is a member of several organizations, including the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators, Rotary Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and National Alliance of School Administrators. 

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