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Flint School Board hopes to hire Detroit school leader as new superintendent

Jul 8, 2015

DPS assistant superintendent Bilal Kareem Tawwab is interviewed by the Flint Board of Education last month.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After more than two years with an interim superintendent, Flint schools may have a permanent leader.

On Tuesday night, the school board voted 5 to 4 to offer Bilal Kareem Tawwab the top job at Flint schools.

Tawwab worked at Detroit Public Schools for 18 years. Right now he’s an assistant superintendent responsible for overseeing more than 40 of the Detroit district’s lowest-performing schools.

“During this next chapter of Flint Community Schools there will remain a laser-like focus on preparing all children to compete globally,” Tawwab said in a written statement.

“I strongly believe that if we maintain a focus on children we will be able to work collaboratively as a community with transparency, integrity and respect to make good decisions that will ensure the present and future success of Flint Community Schools. There may be some heavy lifting ahead but if we stay the course for the children Flint Community Schools we will emerge once again as a beacon of excellence for all to see,” he said.

Tawwab and the school board still have to work out a contract agreement.

Flint schools face serious financial problems.

This school year the state superintendent took the unusual step of fronting Flint schools’ monthly school aid payment three times to help with cash-flow problems.

The district is trying to eliminate a $21.9 million deficit by 2021.

So far, Flint schools have avoided a financial review under Michigan’s emergency manager law. That’s mainly because of the Mott Foundation’s involvement and “substantial contributions made by all district employees, in particular, the tentative agreement approved by district teachers” in 2014, according to Michigan Department of Education spokesman Bill DiSessa.