Kriner Cash, the superintendent of the Memphis school district, announced his resignation on Thursday night. As the 2013-14 merger of Memphis City Schools and the Shelby County Schools edges nearer, John Aitken, Shelby County's superintendent, will take the reins of both districts.
The merger has provoked deep contention in Tennessee, as we reported earlier this year. Some neighborhoods in nearby Shelby County have tried to form their own school districts to avoid sharing resources with Memphis. The resignation is not a surprise: Cash's contract was not renewed last spring.
The school district frames the transition as a move on Cash's part toward new opportunities. "At this time, Dr. Cash has determined that he would like to pursue other professional opportunities. These opportunities include accelerating the success of students at all levels of schooling and the elimination of inequities within our country's education system."
Here's the Commercial Appeal on some of Cash's legacy:
"Cash has a quick wit and a deep understanding of educational issues, but he drew criticism for not communicating well with employees and the public and his occasionally brusque style.
...Cash came to Memphis in the summer of 2008 and immediately began putting his imprint on the city schools.
He was in charge when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation chose Memphis for a $90 million infusion to improve teacher effectiveness. The money began flowing to the district in January 2010.
Cash also moved quickly to add in-school health clinics at four schools around the city as a way to attend to the dire health conditions he found in the student population. The clinics treat the children for free, and provide follow-up care, the biggest health obstacle for many inner-city children. Cash found ways to get insurance companies to provide free transportation to the clinics. A year ago, with his guidance, the clinics began offering children free eyeglasses.
Cash started a campaign to add turf to the city school fields, and succeeded in three schools. He had planned to cover 10-12 fields in three years.
He oversaw double-digit increases in the graduation rate and increased TCAP and ACT scores. Cash pushed and got more Advanced Placement classes in high schools that had almost none. He also pushed for a board policy barring students from competing in extracurricular activities with GPAs below 2.0."
Cash applied for other superintendent positions last year, but will remain in an advisory role until July 31, at which point he will receive six months' salary and a $17,000 moving bonus, the Commerical Appeal reports.