Kelley Castlin-Gacutan named superintendent of Birmingham City Schools

Stephen Green takes over as superintendent of Dekalb County School District in Georgia this summer
By: | Issue: July, 2015
June 19, 2015

Kelley Castlin-Gacutan was unanimously chosen superintendent of Alabama’s Birmingham City Schools in May. Birmingham City is the fourth-largest district in the state, with more than 30,000 students.

Castlin-Gacutan is a native of the area, and was the interim superintendent for Bibb County Schools in Georgia. She has worked as a teacher, principal and administrator. She will begin her new position this month, and told news outlets that she plans to take “the customer is always right” approach to schools, making sure parents and students feel their voices are heard.

Joshua Starr, former superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools in Virginia, will become the next CEO of an international association of educators. Starr resigned from the superintendency in February, after the school board declined to renew his contract for another four years. He had served as the leader of the district since 2011. In Starr’s new position at PDK International, he will lead the company’s mission of providing learning opportunities, networking and research to educators.

Kathy Fields, superintendent of Jessamine County Schools in Kentucky, is getting experience at all levels of her district during her second year on the job. In the spring, Fields shadowed staff and worked three different jobs: cafeteria worker, custodian and bus driver. Last year, she shadowed the district’s top teachers to see how learning was playing out in the classroom.

This year, she said she wants to gain perspective by working with support staff as well. Fields said she plans to visit people in different jobs around the district every year to make sure she understands the challenges in every area.

Stephen Green became superintendent of Dekalb County School District in Georgia on July 1. He is former superintendent of Kansas City School District. Dekalb County is the third-largest district in the state, with 100,000 students, 90 percent of whom are minorities.

Green replaces interim superintendent Michael Thurmond, who assumed the role while the district was on the state’s academic probation list. Thurmond balanced the budget and improved the graduation rate, and Dekalb County is on track to regain full accreditation under Green.

Baker Kurrus, the recently appointed superintendent of Little Rock School District in Arkansas, began writing a weekly column on the district website in May to increase transparency in the school system of 25,000 students. The state had taken over the district in January because six schools were in academic distress.

In Kurrus’s first column, he wrote that the district has organizational problems, including excessive spending and departments that operate in relative isolation. He plans to cut about $40 million from the budget and push authority downward so that routine decisions are made by those who best understand the issues involved.