Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key appointed attorney and former Little Rock School Board member Baker Kurrus as superintendent of the Little Rock School District Tuesday.
Kurrus, who replaces Interim Superintendent Marvin Burton, will lead the district for a salary of $150,000. Former Superintendent Suggs made over $200,000.
Kurrus said he has no timeframe for making specific plans to address the city’s six schools in academic distress but said he will lead the 25,000 student district through collaboration.
“I know we can do it, okay, I’m not coming up here to talk about how we’re not going to ever make things better. I’m coming up here every day with the idea this school district, not because of what I do but because of what you do, is going to be a little bit better every day,” said Kurrus.
At a press conference, Key said he had sought a superintendent known to the local community.
“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.
The announcement followed a unanimous decision by the Arkansas Board of Education to waive requirements for the position, including a degree in higher education. The board also voted 5-to-2 against reinstating the local school board which the state Board of Education disbanded by a 5-to-4 vote in January.
Former Superintendent Dexter Suggs resigned last month following allegations he had plagiarized his 2009 EDD dissertation from Indiana Wesleyan University. Key said he has not heard further from the University about Suggs’s credentials and whether the school is reviewing the allegations.
According to Key, there are no specific benchmarks to decide when to return the district to local control.