EAA gets interim leader - FOX 35 News Orlando

EAA gets interim leader

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DETROIT (AP) -- A former New York City schools chief operating officer was officially announced Wednesday as interim chancellor of Michigan's turnaround district for low-performing public schools.
 
Veronica Conforme replaced John Covington as the head of the 15-school Education Achievement Authority. Covington stepped down this month after three years as chancellor to care for his ailing mother and become a school consultant.
 
The authority's board approved Conforme's appointment Tuesday.
 
As COO of the 1,700-school New York City's Department of Education, Conforme oversaw 130,000 employees and a $23 billion budget. She had already been advising the EAA.
 
"Veronica Conforme's experience and talents will ensure that EAA students will continue to receive the quality education they need and deserve," Gov. Rick Snyder said in a release. "Ms. Conforme already has worked with the EAA team and her strong leadership and compassion will help ensure a seamless transition while EAA board members work through a search and selection process."
 
Under a 2009 law signed by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the lowest-achieving bottom 5 percent of schools -- roughly about 150 schools -- can be placed into a state school reform district if their "redesign" plan isn't achieving satisfactory results. After Snyder took office in 2011, the state transferred the turnaround district to the EAA, a new school system backed by the governor that was formed through an agreement between Detroit schools' emergency manager and Eastern Michigan University.
 
The district was going to be expanded statewide, but expansion legislation is stalled in the Legislature. State Superintendent Mike Flanagan recently terminated a contract giving the fledgling authority exclusive functions of the turnaround district.
 
The 15 EAA schools have longer days, 500 more hours of class annually than usual, no grade levels and instruction tailored to individual students.
 
In 2012, before joining the district, 44 percent of students in the schools declined in reading proficiency in state standardized testing. That number decreased to 36 percent in 2013, after EAA took over the schools. More students improved overall in reading, with about 38 percent improving last year compared to 31 percent the previous year.
 
"I have had the opportunity to visit every school and see our dedicated teachers and leaders working to create better outcomes," said Conforme. "The students continue to amaze me with their engagement, love of learning and hard work."
 
Authority Board Chair Joyce Hayes Giles called Conforme "the best candidate to lead" the district.
 
"She is a proven leader with outstanding academic and administrative capabilities," Hayes Giles said. "She has a vision for improving the educational experience of every student and strengthening the professional development of our teachers."
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