During a public job interview Monday night at the Anniston City Meeting Center, the Anniston City Schools superintendent candidate said the best way leaders can combat a negative perception of the school system is to show off its success.
"I know these students are doing great things. I saw it when I walked through the halls today," said King, the principal of Pershing High School in Detroit, who has worked since 2012 as part of Michigan's Education Achievement Authority, helping to turn around low-performing schools in the state.
"You need to highlight what teachers and students are doing," King said. "The community wants to see investment in their tax dollar. And the best investment you can show them is successful students."
King is the third candidate to interview for the job with the Board of Education.
The board plans to hire one of four candidates as superintendent in February to succeed Superintendent Joan Frazier, who will retire at the end of the school year. The board interviewed two candidates last week and will interview a fourth later this week.
King became principal of Pershing in 2012 as part of a statewide initiative in Michigan to produce better scholastic results at schools where such results had been lacking. As principal, King was able to hire a new staff and faculty to work toward that goal.
King grew up in San Antonio and completed his bachelor’s degree at Rice University. He received a doctorate in education from the University of Washington before taking the job in Detroit.
Although the Motor City is much bigger, King said he sees many similarities between it and Anniston.
"There is sort of a renaissance going on in Detroit, with the schools and the city," King said. "I see that here in Anniston. They're striving to make positive changes."
King said cities that grow need to rely on successful school systems, which attract families and educate future workers.
"The school system affects everybody, whether they believe it or not," King said. "That's why you need to get the message out, not just to parents or grandparents, but to the entire community."
King said one of the toughest challenges he faced as an administrator was closing a school while working as a principal in Seattle. Under-enrollment led to the decision, but King said the school, which was in a mostly African-American neighborhood, had historical and sentimental value for many in the community.
"I learned that you need to keep the community involved," King said when asked how he might handle a similar situation in Anniston, which also faces under-enrollment at several city schools. "You want to keep growing, but at the same time you need to be fiscally sound or you won't be able to grow."
Staff Writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.