Dowling Named New Roosevelt Superintendent
The Roosevelt School District’s governing board has unanimously voted to install Dr. Mark Dowling as the district’s new superintendent.
Although the official title is new, Dowling has been with the district for many years, starting as a teacher at C.O. Greenfield School, then becoming the school’s principal and eventually becoming the district’s assistant superintendent for special needs.
The governing board voted in Dowling as superintendent designee in November 2005 when its then-superintendent, Dr. Grace Wright, had to take an extended medical leave which later led to her vacating her position permanently.
In January, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Department of Education Superintendent Tom Horne spoke at a public meeting for the district and encouraged the governing board to find strong, consistent leadership. Dr. Carol M. Munson, a teacher at Lassen School, immediately voiced support for Dowling, saying, "He has the vision to know what the district needs . . . He has proven himself to be an instructional leader in this district. He knows the district, he knows those of us who work here . . . I believe he has the ability, the humility, and the courage to do everything that he will be asked to do."
Although district administrators and staff, as well as students and parents supported Dowling’s taking over the superintendent position as soon as it was known that Wright had vacated it, the governing board decided to conduct a fair, nation-wide search for a new superintendent.
The board was aided by the Arizona School Board Association in their search, which began in March. The district’s director of human resources, Ramon Osuna, said the district chose the 18 best applicants from an initial group of 331 inquiries, later trimming the pool to four candidates. Besides Dowling, the other three candidates included Charles Townsel, a retired educator; Javier Abrego, who is an associate superintendent for the Chinle Unified School District in Northern Arizona; and Manual Madrid, who is the superintendent of Concho Elementary School District, also in the north part of the state.
During his January meeting, Horne advised the governing board, "Put all the energy you have into finding the very best instructional leader that you can find to be superintendent. Give him or her a three-year contract with specific academic goals of percentage of students to be proficient at the end of the three years.”
Board members expressed their trust in Dowling’s ability to help improve the district schools’ low performance levels, which has put the district under much scrutiny from the Arizona Department of Education.
Board President Ben Miranda stated, "Now everything is on Mark’s shoulder and now the board needs to step back and allow Dowling to do his job.”
With 10 of 21 Roosevelt schools rated as "Underperforming" or "Failing," Dowling has his work cut out for him, but he is optimistic and seems prepared to meet the challenge head-on. After the unanimous vote naming him superintendent, Dowling said, "I greatly appreciate the trust and responsibility to lead the organization. We just need to work together to rub away a little bit of the dust."
Following Horne’s advice, the governing board awarded Dowling a three-year contract and a $145,000 per-year salary. His contract will expire June 30, 2009.