K.C. Administrators Share Interim Superintendency

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Two top administrators will split the duties of interim superintendent for the Kansas City, Mo., schools while officials there search for a permanent replacement.

The school board voted last month to buy out Superintendent Henry Williams' contract after a report by a court-appointed committee that monitors desegregation efforts concluded that the district lacked leadership.

The board appointed Phyllis Chase, the district's associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, to be interim superintendent, but the committee objected, saying that Ms. Chase did not have the financial expertise to handle the district's $276 million annual budget.

Bonnie McKelvy, the associate superintendent for business and finance, was then appointed to share the interim position with Ms. Chase.

Both administrators will earn an annual salary of $120,000 and are expected to remain in the shared superintendency for at least nine months, according to Roxanne Johnson, a spokeswoman for the 36,000-student district.

Ms. Chase will be the interim chief administrator for curriculum and instruction, and Ms. McKelvy will serve as the interim chief administrator for business and finance while the board conducts a national search for a permanent superintendent.

"Decisionmaking is not going to be as clear-cut, but they will work hand in hand," Ms. Johnson said of the new arrangement.

The shared position is not a new model for how the district views the superintendency, Ms. Chase stressed, but is a short-range solution.

Communication Is Key

The arrangement in Kansas City is unusual, said Gary Marx, a spokesman for the American Association of School Administrators, based in Arlington, Va. But, he pointed out, when school boards are seeking a new superintendent, they are under pressure to seek candidates who have the expertise to deal with complex issues, even if just on an interim basis.

"It may work just fine, but it will be important to make sure that communication is really solid," he said.

Ms. Chase agreed that communication would be key.

"I don't think any decision can be made in isolation," she said, adding, "I would be doing business like this anyway. Any education leader that's successful relies on their business manager as they make decisions."

Vol. 18, Issue 12, Page 8

Published in Print: November 18, 1998, as K.C. Administrators Share Interim Superintendency
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