School Board Hires Miami's Cash -- Maybe


Dr. Kriner Cash, who showed confidence and enthusiasm for Memphis City Schools in a series of meetings last week, was offered the job of superintendent on Tuesday.

The Memphis school board voted 9-0 on a motion to offer the job to Cash, who is chief of accountability for Miami/Dade County Public Schools. He was previously a superintendent in Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

The board met for 30 minutes Tuesday afternoon and voted on a motion by school board member Dr. Jeff Warren. If Cash chose not to accept, the job would be offered to the other finalist, Dr. Nicholas Gledich of Orlando, Fla.

Board member Martavius Jones, head of the board's search committee, said he was most impressed by favorable comments about Cash by principals in MCS.

"He seems to be able to inspire those people who see children on a day-to-day basis," one principal told Jones.

The job is expected to pay about $260,000 a year. Cash makes $188,000 in Miami, a district more than three times the size of MCS. If he accepts, he will start in Memphis on July 1st. In interviews last week with board members, Cash said Memphis was his top choice although he is also a finalist in Cincinnati.

Cash said he would spend three or four months studying data about Memphis before making major decisions. One of his early tasks will be reaching some sort of working relationship with Mayor Willie Herenton, who was interested in the superintendent's job and who has proposed a reform package himself.

"Tomorrow is the dawn of a new era for Memphis City Schools," said Jones.

--John Branston

Subsequent to the vote in Cash's favor, eight members of the board (member Kenneth Whalum Jr. had meanwhile left) put in a conference call to Cash in Miami to make their offer official.

During their phone conversation, the mood of the board members was almost giddy, and Cash himself seemed excited and enthusiastic about taking the job. He appeared to accept it provisionally but declined to rule out his previously planned Wednesday trip to Cincinnati when asked about it by members of the gathered Memphis media.

In the course of some adroit verbal footwork, Cash said that, pending the completion of negotiations with the Memphis board, "I may very well go to Cincinnati."

Warren, who professed himself equally pleased with both finalists, said later he thought it was "98 percent certain" that Cash would end up taking the job but regarded Gledich as an acceptable alternative. (Warren said Mayor Willie Herenton's prospects for being offered the job were negligible even if both remaining candidates ended up opting out.)

Dr.Cash had been made fully aware of the tenuous current financial situation of MCS, especially after last week's vote by the city council to withhold nearly $70 million of requested funding. But he professed equanimity on the subject of money for the schools.

"I know where to get it," he said confidently, drawing laughter and something close to cheers from the approving board.

When the subject changed to the matter of completing negotiations and following through on his Cincinnati trip, Cash indicated that one of the variables involved was money.

"Well, you know where to get it," said Warren, playing on Cash's earlier remark and getting ironically tinged laughs of his own.

--Jackson Baker

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