John Covington, who resigned abruptly as superintendent of the Kansas City, Mo., school system on Aug. 24, is moving to Michigan to lead a new educational authority that will oversee some of the state’s lowest-performing schools, starting with a group of schools in Detroit.
The new Education Achievement System is overseen by a board led by the emergency manager of the Detroit public schools, Roy Roberts. In introducing Mr. Covington, the board cited his school reform efforts in the 17,400-student Kansas City district. Mr. Covington arrived in Kansas City in 2009 and moved to shutter more than two dozen schools to close a budget deficit. He previously served as superintendent in Pueblo, Colo., for three years.
The new position as chancellor of the Education Achievement System comes with a salary of $225,000 the first year, plus a $175,000 signing bonus.
Mr. Covington’s resignation from Kansas City upset some local and state officials in Missouri who said it could derail efforts to turn around the struggling district.
“I apologize for the untimely submission of my resignation this week. It was never my intent to cause confusion or alarm,” Mr. Covington said in a statement.
He offered to remain in Kansas City through Sept. 23 to help with the transition to a new schools leader. The district appointed as its interim superintendent R. Stephen Green, the former president and chief executive officer of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Kauffman Scholars Inc. program, which provides tutoring and support to students in the Kansas City area.
The makeup of the Michigan reform district, which will start operating during the 2012-13 school year, has not been finalized. In August, state officials identified 98 persistently low-performing schools, including 38 that are part of the Detroit school system.
Those schools now have to choose from among several turnaround options to improve their performance. If they continue to have low test scores, they could be placed in the new reform district under Mr. Covington’s supervision.
A version of this article appeared in the September 14, 2011 edition of Education Week as K.C. Schools Chief to Run ‘Reform’ District