Romules Durant takes reins as new TPS superintendentWritten by Casey Harper | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Romules Durant is an ambitious man. He knew he wanted to be a superintendent when he was 19 years old and he hopes to one day be secretary of education. He just got one step closer.
Durant was officially named as Toledo Public Schools (TPS) interim superintendent Aug. 1 at a special board meeting to replace Jerome Pecko. Durant said that even though he is an interim superintendent, he is working on a long-term vision.
“I don’t have an interim mentality nor do I have an acting mindset,” Durant said. “If you try to rush a vision within a short period of time all you’re going to have is dysfunction as well as an overburdened staff. My actions are based on full force hitting the ground running.”
TPS’ five-year, $6.5 million renewal levy is up for a vote in November.
Durant said if the levy doesn’t pass there would have to be cuts. The target of the cuts has not been decided but Durant said there could be increased classroom sizes and reductions in workforce, though it would not be just up to him. He said he has felt a lot of community support and feels positive about the levy passing.
Doing good things
The district is doing good things but needs to do a better job of getting the word out, Durant said. He is working on a marketing team; they have three commercials currently airing.
One of the biggest problems facing the district, according to Durant, is students starting their first year of school already developmentally behind. He said that is one reason he stresses getting the entire community involved in education. He wants to address this problem as superintendent.
Durant grew up on the East Side. He graduated from Waite High School in 1994 and attended the University of Toledo on a football scholarship. He received a doctorate in education and administration from UT in 2007
Durant has worked in the district in various positions since 2004. He said his experiences in the schools have helped him understand how to be a better superintendent.
As part of that, he understands that education is affected greatly by what happens to students outside the classroom. He wants to integrate programs like United Way, YMCA and others into the school community to make TPS more effective. He even plans to give outside programs space in the schools to operate.
“Education can’t be the solution to the problem alone,” Durant said.
Durant believes that students excel in positive leadership roles.
“Providing kids leadership opportunities within the schools, I can’t stress that enough,” he said. “I deal with the principals all the time that they become the drivers of the culture of your building and when you provide them positive leadership opportunities that have expectations to them alongside of having a peer-to-peer support group that is being influenced by a mentor. I said, ‘You have an impactful program because now you have kids who are holding other students accountable to their actions as opposed to the presence of an adult.’”
TPS Board of Education elections are in November. Durant said he looks forward to working with whomever is elected.
Durant said he believes in building relationships and has worked to do so his entire career.
A story that sticks with Durant involves those relationships he built along the way. He said the custodial staff at one school gave him a towel as a symbol of their gratitude for his kindness and showing genuine interest in them. He still keeps the towel with him.
“If I treat people with respect they will always remember and they will come together to remember that but those bridges you build on the way up are your support base when you’re there.”