Superintendents Week: DeSoto County Schools Superintendent Milto - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Superintendents Week: DeSoto County Schools Superintendent Milton Kuykendall


Kendall Kirkham: It's WMC Action News 5 Superintendents Week and joining me now is Milton Kuykendall of DeSoto County Schools. Great to have you here.

Milton Kuykendall: Great to be here.

Kendall: This is going to be the very last one. How do you feel?

Kuykendall: It’s bittersweet. I've enjoyed being a part of DeSoto County schools. I’ve been part of the schools for 45 years, 12 years as Superintendent. I've been very blessed. Wonderful job. I hope I leave it better than I found it.

Kendall: This very last first day of school for you. I know you mentioned it was going to be bittersweet, what do you hope it’s going to be like. What are your goals? I know you said you've been doing this for a long time.

Kuykendall: On the first day of school, I always want to make sure we don't lose a child...especially the little ones. Getting them on the right bus and getting them into the cafeteria and learning what they're supposed to do and getting them on the right bus to go home because many times, parents will call me and say 'Where is my child', so that's big with little children on the first day of school.

Kendall: Looking back through all these years and I know there's probably many things you can say, what are some of the highlights and what are some things you may have done differently?

Kuykendall: Obviously, the thing I'm most proud of academically is we're an 'A' district, we're ranked higher than we've ever been. Our ACT scores have gone up like 95 percent. Our national merit scholars have gone up 500 percent. All the things we've done academically are some I'm most proud of. When I took office, every school we had was almost overcrowded. We had 23 million dollars in our fund balance. I'm gonna leave about 73 million in our fund balance and we don't have any overcrowded schools.

Kendall: What would you do differently?

Kuykendall: I would learn at an earlier age the superintendent’s role: I better know where all the sewer lines are before I build any schools. I didn't know I had to know that. I’ve built 17 schools, building a career technology building now, which will be 18, and we've renovated almost every existing school, but construction is important and also you can't let that be the guiding force. Ultimately, people send their children to DeSoto County Schools to get a quality education and we spend 73 percent of our budget on instruction!

Kendall: What advice would you give for the new superintendent if their watching right now?

Kuykendall: Well whoever the superintendent is, the job is a high energy job. It requires a lot of you, a lot of time you’re going to sacrifice away from your family, and you’ve just got to be extremely dedicated, and it doesn’t get any easier. There are enemies to public education nationwide, and we have them in Mississippi as well, that don’t want to support public schools, do not want to fund our schools. Remember public schools is the only chance some children have.

Kendall: What do you think you’re going to miss the most?

Kuykendall: I think I’ll miss, when I left the principal’s job I missed the kids, but I’ve kind of adjusted to that. I think I’ll miss the people I work with and the principals and the people I work with on a regular basis.

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