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MMSD superintendent finalist ‘virtual visits’ Tuesday, Wednesday

MMSD superintendent finalist ‘virtual visits’ Tuesday, Wednesday

Jenkins Kelley Finalists

The two finalists for the Madison Metropolitan School District superintendent position are Carlton Jenkins, left, and Carol Kelley.

Madison Metropolitan School District community members will have the opportunity to hear from the two finalists to become the district’s next superintendent this week.

As with most things amid the COVID-19 pandemic, that opportunity will be virtual.

The two finalists, Carlton Jenkins and Carol Kelley, will participate in a “Virtual Day in the District” Tuesday and Wednesday, mirroring many experiences of the “Day in the District” for the finalists in the last search. Board president Gloria Reyes announced the two finalists last week.

Their days will include interviews with the board and finish up with a community Facebook Live session on the district's Facebook page from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. each night. Those interested can ask questions in the comments on Facebook Live, but there will not be any way to submit questions ahead of time.

[MMSD considers 3 plans for fall; hybrid would have students in school 2 days, virtual 3 each week]

Board members will deliberate over the finalists in a closed session meeting Thursday.

The district hopes to announce its hire in July with an August preferred start date, according to the superintendent search page on its website.

The visits come about three months after the board’s choice in the earlier search backed out of his acceptance of the job. Matthew Gutierrez, a Texas superintendent who was one of three finalists in that search, wrote a March 31 letter to Reyes to rescind his acceptance just weeks after visiting the district as the superintendent-hire.

He cited the pandemic and his district’s ongoing needs in the letter, which was made public a week later.

[Two finalists announced for Madison School District superintendent]

Jenkins, who will be interviewed Tuesday, is in his fifth year as a superintendent of the Robbinsdale School District in New Hope, Minnesota. He has previously held positions around the country, including in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, where he was an associate principal at Memorial High School in 1993-94, according to a list of past jobs in a news article announcing his hire in Robbinsdale.

Kelley will “visit” Wednesday. She is in her fifth year as the superintendent of the Oak Park Elementary School District 97 in Oak Park, Illinois. She has previously been a director of curriculum, elementary school principal, middle school assistant principal and supervisor of mathematics.

Both spent some time as classroom teachers early in their career, as well.

[Pomp and strange circumstance: MMSD Class of 2020 laments lost traditions, looks ahead amid COVID-19]

Kelley's Oak Park district has 6,117 students attending eight elementary schools and two middle schools. The student demographics are 53.3% white, 17.6% Black, 12.6% Hispanic, 3.8% Asian and 12.7% Two or more races, according to the Illinois Report Card.

Jenkins oversees a district with 11,000 students split among eight elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools and four magnet schools. The student demographics are 37.7% white, 30.3% Black, 15.5% Hispanic or Latino, 6.2% Asian, 0.6% American Indian or Alaska Native and 9.6% Two or more races, according to data on the Minnesota Report Card.

MMSD had 26,842 students in the 2019-20 school year, with demographics of 41.7% white, 22.3% Hispanic, 17.8% Black, 8.5% Asian, 9.3% Two or more races and less than 1% each of Pacific Islander and American Indian, according to state data.

Consultant BWP and Associates led both search processes. The district received 33 applications in its second round of posting the job.

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Scott Girard is the local k-12 education reporter at the Cap Times. A Madison native, he joined the paper in 2019 after working for six years for Unified Newspaper Group. Follow him on Twitter @sgirard9.

Related to this story

There are two major changes from the virtual learning the district put in place this spring. High school students can earn letter grades for courses, as long as the credit they’re recovering was in a class taken before the pandemic closed schools. Students up to grade 7, meanwhile, will have more direct interaction with their teachers.