Three named as St. Louis schools superintendent finalists

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

ST. LOUIS -- School administrators from New Orleans, North Carolina and Rhode Island were named Monday as finalists to become the superintendent of St. Louis public schools.

Kelvin Adams serves as chief of staff for the Recovery School District in New Orleans. Eric Becoats is co-interim superintendent for the Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, N.C. Donnie Evans was most recently superintendent of the Providence, R.I., district.

St. Louis superintendent is a closely watched position, and an often revolving one. The state's largest district has had seven leaders since 2005. The roughly 28,000-student district is under state supervision, with a three-member appointed school board charged with turning around the district plagued by academic and financial problems.

Thirty-five people applied for the position. The board hopes to fill the job by the end of this month. A salary and starting date would be determined in talks with the candidate.

Melanie Adams of the appointed school board said the district most wants a strong academic leader with proven results.

Kelvin Adams began his current position in New Orleans last year, coordinating day-to-day operations for the district with 12,500 students and a $300 million budget. He has a previous connection to St. Louis schools: In 2006-07 he was executive director of human resources for the district.

Becoats has been in his current position in North Carolina since earlier this year. The district serves 72,000 students with an annual operating budget of $450 million, according to his biography.

He did not apply for the permanent position there, which he agreed to when he took the interim job, Adams said.

Donnie Evans was superintendent in Providence from 2005 to 2008. The district serves 20,000 students with a $322 million budget.

In March, he said he would not seek another term when his contract expired in September. He did not cite it as a reason, but he faced criticism after more than 100 school children were left on buses for hours after a December snowstorm.

Evans' biography points to academic successes, like 45 percent of 11th graders reading at or above the proficient level, a 10 percent increase from 2005.

Melanie Adams said the busing incident was an isolated case, noting there have been times in St. Louis when wrong decisions were made about snow days.

According to newspaper accounts, Evans and St. Louis' previous superintendent, Diana Bourisaw, were finalists for the top job in the Cincinnati school district earlier this summer. The board there eventually decided to start a new search. Bourisaw pulled her name from consideration after interviewing, and the district had taken some unrelated criticism for how the search was conducted.

Bourisaw, who began in the St. Louis superintendent's job under the leadership of the district's elected board, was asked by the appointed board to reapply for the current opening. She declined. St. Louis' interim superintendent, John Wright, did not express interest in the permanent position.

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