The candidate pool for the EBR Schools Superintendent position is remarkably strong and reveals the national knowledge among education leaders of Baton Rouge’s incredible potential. The five semi-finalists for the position of EBR Schools Superintendent were interviewed virtually by the school board last week. Their interviews, which are available to watch on the district’s YouTube page, reveal the caliber of talent interested in Baton Rouge, and the level of passion, preparation, and knowledge they would each contribute to the role. Importantly, they also reveal the start of a vision that each applicant has of Baton Rouge’s capacity for greatness in education.
The candidates are a diverse group with varying backgrounds, strengths, and experiences. Two are Baton Rouge locals and three come from cities across the U.S. Watching the interviews is worth your time, and providing your feedback through the school district’s short survey will help in narrowing the field when the school board votes on May 21.
The role of EBR Schools Superintendent is crucial to the success of our community, and that is more so now as our community looks forward to reopening and taking the first steps on the long road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Families and students are facing the immediate urgency of both stemming the lost learning caused by a stunted school year and providing safe and high-quality childcare so parents and guardians can head back to the workplace. Among other things, BRAC is looking for a Superintendent who:
- Will put improving academic achievement for all students at the forefront of every decision
- Has experience transforming underperforming schools into highly performing schools
- Is committed to differentiated learning that provides the right fit for every student and family
Baton Rouge’s education scene has both deep challenges and strong reasons for optimism. Chronically under-performing schools, declining district enrollment, regularly thin budgets, aging facilities, and the potential for a fourth breakaway district have created a lot of work for the next Superintendent. COVID-19 will present further challenges, deepening budget woes and exacerbating the achievement gap. The next Superintendent must be someone with a bold vision for Baton Rouge’s students who is ready for the great challenge and greater reward of this pivotal role.
Here are the candidates:
- Leslie Brown: Since 2012, the Chief Portfolio Officer for Broward County Public Schools in Florida, the sixth largest school district in the U.S, serving over 270,000 students in 234 schools. Ms. Brown has served in Broward County Schools since 1991 in roles with progressively more responsibility, but for a 3-year span in the mid-2000’s during which she led a charter school and earned the distinction of Superior Turnaround Principal from the state of Florida. During her time in the senior leadership in Broward County, the district’s student achievement growth has been among the fastest growing in the state of Florida. The district’s graduation rate stands at 95 percent.
- Adam Smith: Mr. Smith is currently the EBR Schools’ Associate Superintendent of Academic Programs, and a Chicago native who has served in EBR Schools since beginning as a teacher there in 1996. His experience includes time as the Principal for Park Forest Middle School and as interim Principals for Scotlandville High School and Glen Oaks High School. Each of these schools grew in school performance score between 5 and 11 points during his tenure. Mr. Smith has served on EBR Schools’ executive leadership team since 2012. He has four children, all of whom attended EBR Schools.
- Dr. Quintina Timoll: Dr. Timoll is currently the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for EBR Schools. She has led the district’s Innovation Network, a group of 13 chronically underperforming schools identified for intense intervention, since its inception two years ago. Dr. Timoll designed the interventions for these schools in partnership with the state Department of Education, leading to eighty-six percent of schools in the Network significantly increasing student achievement, with jumps in school performance scores as high as 14 percent. Timoll formerly held the same role in St. John the Baptist Schools and during the first year of her tenure the very economically disadvantaged district improved from a C to a B performance rating. Dr. Timoll has also worked for the Louisiana Department of Education and Southern University. She began her teaching career in EBR Schools in 1996.
- Dr. Nakia Towns: Dr. Towns is the Chief of Staff for Hamilton County Schools, the fastest improving district in the state of Tennessee, having improved 14 spots in the state rankings between 2017 and 2019. Hamilton County Schools serve 45,000 students in 79 schools, 40 percent of which received an A ranking from the state. She was a vice president for business banking with a Fortune 500 company before beginning her career in public schooling in 2010. Since then she has served as the Chief Accountability Officer for Knox County Schools. In her time as the Assistant Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Education, she and her team redesigned the state’s accountability system and school improvement framework.
- Marshall Tuck: Mr. Tuck is a strategic consultant in California, guiding education non-profits in both fundraising and academic improvement. He was the leader of Green Dot Public Schools, a high-performing non-profit charter network that serves 13,000 primarily low-income students in 30 schools. He then led the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a collaboration between the city’s Mayor and county’s school district to improve 18 of the district’s lowest-performing schools, serving 14,000 students. During Mr. Tuck’s tenure, Partnership schools had the highest improvement on state tests of any school district in California with over 10,000 students and graduation rates went up by 64 percent. Mr. Tuck twice narrowly lost races for California State Superintendent, earning 47% and 49% of the vote and raising over $4 million for his campaigns.
The District will be taking feedback until May 18. We urge you to judge the candidates yourself and weigh in on this critical decision.
As BRAC’s senior vice president of economic competitiveness, Liz leads the organization’s public policy advocacy, strategy, research, and reform activities aimed at advancing the quality of life and economic competitiveness of the Baton Rouge Region.