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UPDATE: New Little Rock School District Superintendent Headed Down From NWA

The new head of the Little Rock School District Michael Poore.

We weren't supposed to know who would replace Baker Kurrus as Superintendent of the Little Rock School District until Wednesday morning but news from northwest Arkansas confirms that Michael Poore has the job.

He's been superintendent of the Bentonville School District since 2011-12 school year. Prior to that he developed some job experience as a deputy superintendent that he'll be deploying once again if the state's plan to close schools in Little Rock continues.

The Colorado Springs Independent reports in 2011.

It was Poore who led D-11 through the painful and unpopular process of school closures in 2009. He did so by creating a public process for citizens to voice their concerns, while at the same time presenting the closures as a financial necessity.

The article was written as Poore began planning his departure from Colorado to Bentonville. The move from NWA to Little Rock will be the reverse of his last career sojourn.

Poore says he's excited to have the opportunity to lead Bentonville, which is markedly different than D-11. While D-11 struggles with declining enrollment and has had to close schools, Bentonville has rapidly expanding enrollment and needs to build a new high school. While D-11 has struggled with low student achievement in some of its schools, Bentonville has high achieving students. Bentonville is in good budgetary shape, while D-11 has faced budget cuts and is expecting more in the future.

A statement from Education Commissioner Johnny Key's office:

"Baker Kurrus' contract as the Little Rock School District superintendent ends June 30. I have asked him to remain involved in the ongoing work of LRSD. This could occur in a formal position through ADE or informally as he had been doing previously under former Commissioner Tony Wood. A new superintendent will be named tomorrow who will continue the work of moving LRSD toward academic excellence."

Back in May when Key appointed Kurrus as superintendent, he alluded to the importance of civic participation and buy-in in the district. He said it had to be someone from Little Rock. Not so any more.

“I’ve been asked many times about a national search and my response to that was we need someone that can bring Arkansas solutions and Little Rock solutions to the Little Rock School District. That means we need someone who has Little Rock roots, Little Rock connections,” said Key.


This from the Arkansas Department of Education Tuesday morning: 

"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."

Jacob Kauffman is a former news anchor and reporter for KUAR.
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