Leader Blues

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

TOP STORY >> Who wants PCSSD job?

By NANCY DOCKTER
Leader staff writer

After being spurned by the Pulaski County Special School District school board as the person to head the district, acting Superintendent Rob McGill has taken another job.

On Monday, McGill accepted an offer to become the executive director of Academics Plus Charter School, beginning July 1. The school is located in Maumelle.

The Academics Plus board of trustees has decided to pay its current executive director, Jake Honea, $86,700 to not return for the third year of his three-year contract so that McGill could take the job.

“He really wasn’t given the option,” said Jess Sweere, Academics Plus board president. “He was told he was being replaced. He reports to the board.”

Sweere said that Honea had “indicated” to the board he was not planning on renewing his contract when it expired in 2011.

“It is a substantial amount of money, but we felt that it was in the best interest of the school,” Sweere said.

The school’s annual budget is $3.2 million.

McGill’s contract will be for three years. His annual salary will be $95,000.

Sweere said that the board had no complaints against Honea, who was a former school teacher and charter school superintendent in Texas before coming to Maumelle to head Academics Plus.

“Largely, thanks to the efforts of Mr. Honea, the school is in good shape financially,” Sweere said. “It is money well spent, the right thing to do.”

When asked how McGill’s qualifications, in comparison to Honea’s, justify the expenditure, Sweere said, “I would rather not compare the two.”

McGill had served for a year as acting superintendent for PCSSD and was one of two finalists for the top post. When the other finalist, Vashti Washington, a South Carolina assistant school district superintendent, withdrew her application, the PCSSD board last week voted to reopen the national candidate search rather than hire McGill.

At the time, McGill expressed uncertainty that he would reapply.

McGill was the center of a controversy about whether he made racially insensitive remarks following the Arkansas Board of Education’s denial of two charter school applications by the county school district. A special investigator cleared him of the allegation.

“I reached out to him when I saw what was in the paper a couple of weeks ago,” Sweere said. “I thought he would be an excellent fit for us if it didn’t work out for him with Pulaski County.”

At a special meeting Sunday night, the Academics Plus board voted unanimously to offer McGill the position. His contract was ratified Monday.

“The board is excited about this addition to our leadership team and believes this move further underscores our unified commitment to improve the learning and growth opportunities offered to students of Academics Plus Charter School,” said Luke Ribich, APCS trustee and board secretary, in a press release issued Monday. “Mr. McGill’s record of high achievement and forward-looking instructional and organizational leadership is wholly representative of the commitment, leadership and energy necessary to progress toward our vision to be the college preparatory school of choice in central Arkansas.”

McGill worked for PCSSD for 17 years as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. His experience includes four years teaching fourth, fifth and sixth grade, two years as assistant principal at Landmark Elementary School and four years as principal at Pine Forest Elementary School. McGill has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in elementary school administration. He lives in Mayflower.

In March 2009, McGill took a leave of absence from his post at Pine Forest to serve as acting superintendent following the resignation of James Sharpe.