The Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents has announced its 2013 Superintendent of the Year. Thomas Little was selected by the organization for closing budgetary gaps and raising graduation rates in the Perry Township school district in Indianapolis. October 2, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents (IAPSS) named Dr. Thomas J. Little Jr. as the Indiana Superintendent of the Year today. Little, superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of Perry Township in Indianapolis, will represent Indiana in the American Association of School Administrators National Superintendent of the Year program.
Little was selected for the statewide recognition for his leadership skills as well as for the district's academic achievements in a time of limited financial resources.
“Every school district in Indiana is challenged with balancing the lingering budget cuts that began in 2010 with constantly increasing expectations to improve test scores, student achievement and accountability,” said Dr. John T. Coopman, IAPSS executive director. “In the five years Dr. Little has served Perry Township, the district has turned its finances around to overcome a $9 million shortfall, increased graduation rates to 92.2 percent, gained the community's support to pass two funding referendums, and built solid community relationships to serve an increasingly diverse population where nearly 20 percent of the students are English language learners. Dr. Little's ability to unite the district’s board, staff and community stakeholders to do what’s best for children is a great example for school districts throughout Indiana and the country.”
Perry Township has more than 14,000 students and 1,800 staff members in 18 schools.
On Little's first day as Perry Township superintendent in 2008, he learned the district was overspending its budget by $2 million a year and faced an additional $9 million shortfall in the next eight years.
Little immediately set out to educate and inform the board, staff and community about the district's financial issues.
“Our approach was not to focus on cutting staff and programs, but to focus on how we would spend our remaining operating budget to serve the needs of 14,000 children,” said Little.
He formed a leadership group of board members, administrators and teachers to develop recommendations, which included eliminating programs with a high cost-to-student benefit and expanding advanced placement (AP) and online offerings. The budget was balanced within two years.
Another work group, including parents and community members, studied and made recommendations for improving and repairing school facilities.
In the last decade Perry Township has become the home to a large number of Burmese refugees. The MSD of Perry Township has initiated a variety of academic and support programs to help Burmese students overcome language barriers and adapt to the culture of their new school environment.
Little is a past president of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents and is active in the Perry Township community. He was formerly superintendent in Kokomo-Center Schools and Jay School Corp. and an administrator in Carmel Clay Schools, the MSD of Pike Township and West Central School Corp.
Source: The Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents