- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2003

One of three finalists for the Prince George's County schools chief position yesterday said her experience in districts large and small would allow her to improve communication among administrators and enhance student performance.
Barbara Moore Pulliam, in a meeting with reporters yesterday at Prince George's Community College in Largo, downplayed concerns that her current job as superintendent of a Minnesota district with only 4,300 students means she couldn't handle the 134,000-student Prince George's system.
"Most of my professional experience is in large school districts," she said. "I lived in Chicago for 20 years and spent 16 in Chicago public schools."
Chicago has the third-largest school system in the United States, and Mrs. Pulliam oversaw the budget for desegregation programs and headed a project to improve student achievement in its 328 schools.
Mrs. Pulliam was raised in the District and graduated from the now-vacant McKinley Tech High School in Northeast. She said she looks forward to the prospect of returning home after 30 years.
Mrs. Pulliam said that after researching Prince George's public schools, she can tell she will have to address the fast growth of the school system and the poverty of those who live in the county.
To start off her time in the system, she would do "a lot of absorbing and a lot of listening" to make sure she understands who is involved with the decisions the system makes, and the concerns of students, parents and school personnel.
"I have experienced many successes in my career, but they have never been successes I have built by myself," she said, highlighting her objective to keep a close eye on hiring top-tier administrators and teachers for the district.
On the practical side, she said, she would work to ensure fiscal responsibility in the face of a budget struggle that could drain more from already-ailing public schools.
Mrs. Pulliam also said that she has used standardized tests to mark the improvement of individual students in an academic area, and that the tests can be useful in determining whether one is making headway.
Her post with the St. Louis Park School District in Minnesota afforded her experience in a small, suburban setting, she said. Under her leadership there, students scored higher on the state standardized tests. She was an associate superintendent for Rockford public schools in Illinois before taking the position in St. Louis Park, just west of Minneapolis, in 1997.
The system Mrs. Pulliam now leads has a diverse student body, and teachers and administrators have high expectations for children, said Charlie Kyte, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators in St. Paul.
Mrs. Pulliam called her management style collaborative, but said it would be directive when the situation calls for it.
John J. Keegan Jr., superintendent of Sioux Falls, S.D., will meet with the Prince George's Board of Trustees today. The third finalist, Andre J. Hornsby, former superintendent of Yonkers public schools in New York, met with the board and the press Monday.
The county's outgoing public schools chief executive officer, Iris T. Metts, took a position with an education group in the District instead of reapplying for the job. Her contract expires in June.

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