Summer is traditionally the season of musical chairs in the world of education, yet it is entirely possible that Minneapolis Public Schools has not experienced such a concentrated burst of personnel changes as the last few weeks.
Departing to become the number two in White Bear Lake is Associate Superintendent Sara Paul. It’s hard not to be happy for Paul, although the void she’s leaving will be a big one. First hired a few short years ago to helm the Office of New Schools, Paul excelled at building relationships inside and outside the district.
Paul was replaced as new schools czar by Tom Franta, who also departs the summer. He leaves to take a position as head of the Washington State Charter Schools Association. Franta wasn’t on the job long enough to be associated with any new schools per se, but was to have played a major role in MPS’ new “portfolio” strategy of reorganizing the district’s lowest performing schools around particular curricular objectives.
Also resigning is Rick Kreyer, the head of human resources who was instrumental in negotiating the districts new, groundbreaking contract with its teachers union. He will assume the same post in St. Louis Park Public Schools.
Kreyer will be replaced by Executive Director of Employee Relations Steve Barret, who will have his work cut out for him on day one. The district ended the school year with a number of open principalships; several seasoned building leaders were promoted to associate superintendent positions.
There is one promotion that will receive more attention in this space soon: Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson last week announced the promotion of Michael Walker to head the newly created Office of Black Male Student Achievement.
The news put on hold a simmering controversy that had been threatening to erupt over the district’s perceived lack of urgency in filling the job. More on that as soon as Walker is back in his office from a no doubt well-deserved summer vacation.
As a placeholder, here is his bio as summarized in a district news release:
From 1998 to 2006, Walker served as community outreach, program and youth development director at the YMCA of Greater St. Paul and Minneapolis, where he developed programs for social, academic, athletic and employment skills for youth and served as the coordinator of the Black Achievers program, an academic achievement and career development initiative for middle school and high school youth and teens.
“Walker worked as a career and college coordinator for AchieveMpls at Roosevelt High School from 2006 to 2009 before serving Minneapolis Public Schools as Roosevelt’s dean of students from 2009 to 2011 and assistant principal from 2011 to the present.