John Covington named first chancellor of Detroit’s Education Achievement System

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John Covington (front) is named the first chancellor of Detroit's Education Achievement System

The outgoing superintendent for the Kansas City, Mo., School District, the only candidate for the job of chancellor for the new statewide Education Achievement Authority, was given the job this afternoon.

John Covington will be in charge running the system that will soon take control of Michigan’s lowest-performing schools.

The executive committee unanimously approved Covington, who will be paid $225,000 a year with a $175,000 signing bonus. The contract is for four years.

Covington resigned Wednesday from his job in Kansas City, effective next month. He joined that school district in 2009. The EAA executive committee held a meeting to discuss the candidate’s application in closed session.

The committee is comprised of five members of the 11-member EAA board. The committee’s job is to appoint a chancellor for the EAA, which will begin its work next year by first taking control of a group of low-performing Detroit schools.

Roy Roberts, emergency manager for the Detroit Public Schools, said the Covington surfaced as a candidate as a search firm looked for a DPS superintendent – a vacant position – as well as a chancellor for the new statewide school system. Roberts said conversations with five candidates yielded interest in the EAA position, but no interest in the DPS superintendent job.

All but Covington withdrew from the EAA chancellor search progress, Roberts said.

“We were not able to have multiple candidates vying for the post because none wished to have their board think they were ‘fishing’,” for a job, Roberts said.

Covington’s appointment coincides with the state’s public release of its release of its top-to-bottom rankings for all public schools in the state, identifying 98 schools as “persistently low-achieving” schools.

Since joining the 17,000-student Kansas City school district, Covington led several reform efforts there, including a “right-sizing” – or school closure – process, presenting a balanced budget for the 2011 fiscal year for the first time in several decades and reducing the number of vendors from about 8,000 to 800, according to his biography on the district’s Web site.

Prior to that, Covington served as the superintendent of Pueblo City Schools, Pueblo, Colo., for three years.

Contact CHASTITY PRATT DAWSEY: 313-223-4537 or cpratt@freepress.com. Follow @cprattdawsey on Twitter.

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