Art Jarvis, Tacoma’s interim school superintendent, left a good impression today in his first visit with the TNT editorial board.
That was a whole lot better than now-departed superintendent Charlie Milligan did in his disastrous first visit a year ago. Milligan seemed to have a chip on his shoulder from the beginning, displaying obvious resentment at questions about his plans for his first year in Tacoma. His year was all downhill from there.
Jarvis, by contrast, was easy-going and relaxed. He was a little tough to pin down on specifics at times, but he fielded questions comfortably, promising to “do my absolute best to be transparent” with the newspaper.
Jarvis needs to rebuild an administration with key vacancies at the top. First priority is hiring a human resources director: “You build the entire system with hires,” Jarvis noted. He’s also seeking someone to serve as the equivalent of chief academic officer and has a couple assistant superintendent positions to fill.
Action on school closures – which Milligan suspended last year – is unlikely anytime soon. Jarvis will provide the school board with updated research on enrollment trends and school capacity later in the school year.
He wouldn’t mind losing the “interim” from his title if the school board asks him to stay on, Jarvis said, but he won’t be a candidate if the board decides to conduct a national search.
Jarvis said the district needs to avoid “adult distractions” and focus on kids and learning. “I think people are ready to pick up the loose ends and move.”