Prince George's County School Superintendent John A. Murphy, who three days ago submitted his resignation to take a similar job in Charlotte, N.C., last night was offered the superintendent's position in Kansas City, Mo., renewing speculation over his career plans.
The Kansas City School Board voted 7 to 1, with one abstention, to offer Murphy that city's top education post at a starting salary of $150,000, board member William DeFoor said.
That salary is $30,000 more than Murphy now makes and $6,000 more than he has been offered in Charlotte. But a benefits and annuity package, the details of which remain to be worked out, would boost the four-year Kansas City contract, DeFoor said.
Murphy, who flew to Missouri for an interview Friday but said Saturday that he was "very doubtful" he would accept the position if offered, could not be reached for comment last night. He did not immediately reject the offer, DeFoor said.
DeFoor said the Kansas City School Board decided to compete for Murphy because of his national reputation. During his nearly seven-year tenure in Prince George's, Murphy has won recognition as an educator who has dealt effectively with desegregation, sagging test scores and minority student achievement -- issues that are among the most pressing in Kansas City, which has 35,000 students.
Kansas City, whose public school student body is 70 percent black, is expected to receive large amounts of state aid to help it comply with a court order to integrate its schools.
Despite the offer from Kansas City, Sharon Bynum, a member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board, said last night that she is confident Murphy will end up in North Carolina. Murphy reportedly called another Charlotte board member yesterday to say he intends to do just that.
"He has too much of a national reputation at stake" to pull out of the Charlotte deal, Bynum said. "I can't even imagine the devastation to his reputation if he did that."
The Kansas City board's consideration of Murphy was criticized over the weekend by the Black Agenda Group, a coalition of the city's black community leaders and groups, which said it would call for a school boycott and civil disobedience if Murphy were hired.
"We think it is very important to the psychological and educational development of black youth to have a black superintendent," said Clinton Adams Jr., a member of the group. The other finalist for the job -- Franklin Smith, the school superintendent in Dayton, Ohio -- is black. Special correspondents Tim O'Connor and Lynn Horsley contributed to this report.