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More Leadership Changes Coming to School Districts

Philadelphia isn't the only school district to have a superintendent resign this week.

John Covington, the superintendent of Kansas City Schools, resigned Wednesday in a move that "shocked" the community, according to an article in the Kansas City Star.

Covington had been on the job for just a little over two years, but had shaken up the district during his short time as schools leader. This Education Week article from March 2010 describes how he spurred the 17,400-student district to close 26 of 61 schools. Rick Hess, an Edweek blogger, praised Covington for "smarts and courage" in making those steps.

At least one school board member is holding out faint hope that Covington can be persuaded to stay. Board member Arthur Benson said he was resigning in sympathy with Covington, and that board president Airick West has interfered in the business affairs of the district. According to an email from Benson posted on the Star website: "Ultimately, a community gets the public school district it wants, and deserves, as demonstrated by its actions. We, as a community, have failed our kids by not having a better school board."

Those two blockbuster resignations have overshadowed the resignation of James A. Williams, superintendent for six years in the 37,000-student Buffalo, N.Y. district. He announced Aug. 16 that he had agreed with his school board to retire Sept. 15. He will receive a buyout package of nearly $130,000, which includes six months of salary, unused vacation time and a $10,000 consulting fee.

(Former Philadelphia superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who resigned on Monday, is leaving with a buyout package of at least $905,000, plus other perks. The Philadelphia Schools Notebook blog posted a breakdown of the separation agreement on its website today.)

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