JERRY GUESS

  • JERRY GUESS

That was quick.

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Former superintendent Bobby Lester’s interim leadership of the Pulaski County School District, now under state control, didn’t last long.

Education Director Tom Kimbrell today announced that he’d named Dr. Jerry Guess, 15-year superintendent at Camden Fairview, to lead the district. Release on jump.

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Kimbrell said Guess had the personality and skills to lead. Guess said, after 33 years in Camden, he wanted to help Kimbrell and liked a challenge.

He’ll get one. The job starts July 5. Guess will be paid $215,000, but use his own car. Lester will stay on for a time to help the transition.

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UPDATE: Guess met reporters at noon and carefully, but smoothly and genially answered the expected questions about the fight over desegregation money, lines of authority and the rest. He emphasized he’s on a one-year contract. He said he viewed Kimbrell as the “school board,” as law provides, but in weighing, for example, the need for state financial aid, he’ll consider children’s needs first. He said he wasn’t ready to say yet if he’d change any leadership positions, but gave a general endorsement to district employees. Kimbrell said state officials had met with representatives of the teachers and support staff unions and the meetings had gone well, but it’s not resolved if those contracts will, or must, be followed to the letter.

Guess leaves a district with 63 percent black enrollment where he made $115,000. His deputy, Robert Davis, will succeed him. Kimbrell said Guess was so surprised he stuttered when he called to ask him to consider the job. He sang Guess’ praises as an admired leader who’d bring stability to a district that needs it. Guess said he will live in Little Rock, but his wife, who’s business manager of the Fairview school district, will stay in Camden along with a 15-year-old boy they’ve raised since he was a child. He has grown children and grandchildren.

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