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Published in Print: August 4, 1999, as Superintendents Named in K.C. and Newark

Superintendents Named in K.C. and Newark

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With not much time to spare before the new school year, two big-city districts have filled their top administrative jobs.

Both Benjamin Demps Jr., the new superintendent in Kansas City, Mo., and Marion Bolden, who will lead the schools in Newark, N.J., took office almost immediately after their appointments last month.

Mr. Demps, an Oklahoma City businessman and former state and federal official, is Kansas City's 19th superintendent in 30 years. His selection followed a messy and protracted search in which two other finalists were offered the job and then withdrew after failed negotiations with the school board.

The other finalists were retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jay T. Edwards and former U.S. Commissioner of Education Statistics Pascal Forgione Jr.

The turmoil-ridden district of 37,000 students has not had a permanent superintendent since last fall when Henry Williams left after board members questioned his management and leadership. Mr. Demps, 65, has no professional experience in education. He headed the Oklahoma Department of Human Services in the early 1990s and earlier held a high-ranking post in the Federal Aviation Administration.

Ms. Bolden, the new chief in Newark, served as a top deputy under Superintendent Beverly Hall, who left this summer to head the schools in Atlanta. Like her predecessor, Ms. Bolden was appointed by the New Jersey state school board, which controls the Newark schools.

The 53-year-old former mathematics teacher moved up through the ranks of the 44,000-student district to become associate superintendent for teaching and learning. Many hope the appointment of an insider heralds better relations between the city and the state.

Mr. Demps will earn $156,400 in annual base salary, while Ms. Bolden will make $150,000. Both superintendents will be entitled to more than $15,000 in bonuses if students show enough improvement in standardized test scores.

--Bess Keller

Vol. 18, Issue 43, Page 18

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