The Little Rock School Board meets tomorrow. At a special meeting, the Board will consider Superintendent Linda Watson’s request to create a deputy superintendent position. She already has a special assistant. Some familiar names are going around about potential hires for the spot.
Fearless forecast: Based on my checks, it seems safe to assume the request will not receive warm support from the Board. The district is administration-heavy already. The School Board soon will likely hire an outside firm to study district spending and management with an eye toward whether its resources are being allocated in the best way to address the district’s enduring problem, the gap between achievement of white and black students. Stocking up more administrators now hardly seems like a prudent step.
In the last two days, I’ve had important district figures, both black and white, tell me that Watson has succeeded in only one notable area — creating consensus among both black and white board members, often deeply factionalized, that they are not satisfied with the superintendent’s leadership. She’s due for her annual evaluation next week. A tip that this issue crosses any racial divides came at a recent meeting of a strategic planning commitee where civil rights lawyer John Walker, a strong advocate over the years for black leadership of the majority black district, made clear his dissatisfaction with lack of progress at reaching students most in need. He also has faulted the administration’s failure to be on top of a central issue in the final stage of hte desegregation case, a data system for tracking student progress.