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Kimbrough to Stay On as Head of Compton District

March 10, 1985|DARYL KELLEY | Times Staff Writer

COMPTON — Saying he thinks he can leave a permanent mark on schools here, Supt. Ted Kimbrough agreed Thursday to continue in his position through mid-1989.

Kimbrough said he rejected offers to be superintendent from two California school districts before signing a new four-year contract with Compton on Thursday afternoon.

His annual salary at the other districts, which he refused to name, would have been similar to the $75,000 he now receives.

Kimbrough also notified the Los Angeles city schools, from which he has been on leave since 1982, that he will not return to an administrative job that pays $4,000 more than he makes in Compton, he said.

"These were very serious considerations," said Kimbrough, who was offered the new contract by a divided Compton school board Feb. 26. "But Los Angeles has a wealth of very competent people, and they can get along without Ted Kimbrough. . . .

"Me leaving here would have done more harm, not because it's me, but because of the inconsistency in leadership. My original commitment was to help stabilize and get some quality into this district. And I think maybe I can make a mark here, make a difference."

Immediate Goals

His most immediate goals are to make teacher salaries in Compton more competitive and to establish "magnet" programs at secondary schools to lure former Compton students back to the district.

The Compton Unified School District had 11 different superintendents in the 15 years before Kimbrough was hired in September, 1982.

Kimbrough threatened to resign two weeks ago, then reconsidered when the school board voted, 4 to 3, to extend his contract through June, 1989. The board also extended the contracts of nine top aides for two years.

The 50-year-old superintendent has been controversial almost from the day he arrived in Compton.

In his first two years, he investigated school district officials and reassigned at least 40 top administrators. Last year, security officials said they had been ordered by Kimbrough to investigate four school board members. And, within the last six weeks, Trustee John Steward has twice called for his resignation.

"It's a tough situation--there's no question about that," Kimbrough said. "But I have the support of the board, although a couple of board members have expressed displeasure. And I have indicated to the board that I want to do everything I can to cooperate with all seven members, so we can move this district ahead. I believe it can happen. If I didn't, I wouldn't have stayed."

Supports Shifts

Kimbrough acknowledged that his support from trustees has shifted with time and is imperiled by school board elections every two years. Three trustee positions--Steward's, and those of Kimbrough supporters Kelvin Filer and Manuel Correa--are on the November ballot.

"I just hope I'm not part of somebody's campaign," he said. "I'll do everything I can to keep this position out of it."

Politics aside, Kimbrough said his ongoing top priority is to shift district funds so more can go to teachers' salaries, which are among the lowest in Los Angeles County.

District teachers have been without a contract since September and have been offered a 1% salary increase. The teachers and administration are in a state fact-finding process, in which an impartial state employee decides how much money the district has available for teacher salaries. His findings, which are expected this month, are not binding.

"We can't do it all at once," said Kimbrough of making teacher salaries competitive. The 27,000-student district has a projected deficit of at least $1 million in its $93-million budget this fiscal year.

Additional Concern

A second major problem is that about 2,500 secondary students leave Compton schools for those in neighboring districts, Kimbrough said.

He hopes to address this problem by creating special "magnet" programs at each of the city's three high schools, making them more attractive to students, Kimbrough said.

For example, Dominguez High's computer science program will be expanded next year. Compton High is already beginning to draw students to its performing arts classes, he said, and its medical careers classes will be expanded. Centennial High will be a magnet for engineering and para-professional courses, he said.

This will be accomplished with funds drawn from other programs, though the programs targeted for reduction have not yet been identified, Kimbrough said.

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