Aurora Lora named superintendent in Oklahoma City

Kentucky education commissioner wants to revise accountability system
By: | May 12, 2016

After a shake-up in Oklahoma City Public Schools that resulted with Superintendent Rob Neu and the district “parting ways” Aurora Lora has taken over as superintendent.

Lora, a former fourth-grade teacher in Houston and a district administrator in Portland, Seattle and Dallas, had been a finalist for the job in 2014. Neu subsequently hired her to be the district’s associate superintendent of student achievement and accountability. Upon assuming duties in Oklahoma City, she visited with school leaders in part to help boost morale.

Kentucky education commissioner Stephen Pruitt is advocating for a revised accountability system for public schools according to the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Pruitt does not want to rank districts and schools, as is done now, and has held town hall meetings to get input from parents.

“If we don’t come out with an accountability system focused on students, then we’ve failed” he told the state board of education. “It can’t be about what’s easiest for adults. The system needs to promote what’s best for students.”

Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal launched the “Bring Our Kids Home” initiative aimed at increasing retention and recruitment in April. The plan targets 7,000 students who live in the district but do not attend schools there due to decades of instability and administrative turnover.

Neal will use grassroots efforts, such as parent-hosted recruitment parties to show prospective families the positive changes in the district, such as a 7 percent increase in graduation rates.

In April, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $40 million overhaul of how the city manages custodians at its 1,800 schools, to start in 2017. In conjunction with the city’s Department of Education, NYC School Support Services, a new not-for-profit, will oversee custodial engineers, who previously were allowed to hire janitors and handymen and set their own budgets.

The reforms, which aim to reduce corruption and eliminate outside contractors, will cost $23 million in 2018 and be cost neutral by 2019.

Antonio Burt was named in April the director of school transformation at Pinellas County Schools in Florida to reform five failing elementary schools in St. Petersburg. Burt, a former history teacher and principal, turned around other low-performing schools, including most recently in Tennessee’s Achievement School District. He has also coached principals of underperforming schools for The New Teacher Project.