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NEWS RELEASES 2002-03 :: MARCH 6, 2003


State Board of Education Chairman Phil Kirk, the second-longest serving chairman in the history of the State Board, today announced that he will resign from that post on May 1, 2003.

Calling his service as State Board Chairman one of the "highlights" of his life, Kirk said the long days spent as an advocate for public schools at the same time he worked as President of North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry were tiring and that he is ready to turn over the post. Kirk will remain an active education supporter as he serves on a number of other education boards. He said that he will refocus his energies on making NCCBI even more effective in serving its members.

In a statement released at today's State Board meeting, Kirk said, "The past five-and-one-half years have been exhilarating, challenging, and most enjoyable. Our public schools are leading the nation in progress and North Carolina has won much-deserved national recognition by so many groups and in so many different areas. This has unquestionably been a team effort with the hard-working members of the State Board of Education leading the way. I have been tremendously proud to be a member of this board."

Former Governor James B. Hunt Jr., who appointed Kirk to the Board, said, "Phil Kirk has done a superb job as Chairman of the State Board of Education. He has made an historic contribution in pushing for high academic standards in North Carolina schools and under his leadership, our test scores reflecting student learning have gone up more than in any other state. His tenure also has seen the standards for public school teachers raised and salaries have advanced from 43rd to 21st in the nation. I am deeply grateful for his leadership and urge his continued strong involvement in improving education and the economy in North Carolina."

Kirk said he has been able to meet many of the goals that he set when he met with Gov. Hunt in 1997 to discuss serving as Board chair. These goals include visiting all ll7 school systems at least once and more than 750 schools, beginning to restore respect for the teaching profession and public schools in general, implementing a "Good News Presentation" at the beginning of every State Board of Education meeting, helping to maintain and enhance public school initiatives in accountability, and working to improve the salaries and working conditions for educators.

State Superintendent Mike Ward said that Kirk has been a hard-working and successful leader for public schools. "While it is tough to see Phil leave this role, we're proud of his legacy as State Board chair and confident that he will continue to be a strong advocate for our students."

Kirk will continue his support for public schools even after he steps down May 1. He is chairman of the Workforce Development and Education committee of the North Carolina Economic Development Board, as well as a member of its executive committee. He sees this as a very important role as North Carolina works to rebuild its economy and create jobs for its citizens. He also plans to resume being an active member of the Board of Directors for the Public School Forum, the North Carolina Travel and Tourism Board and the Travel and Tourism Coalition board, and other education and business groups.

Kirk said, "I am convinced that we will all remain committed to high standards and high expectations and that we will work together to be sure adequate resources--both in money and in volunteer time--are available to meet these goals."

At his swearing-in ceremony on Nov. 6, 1997, Kirk said, "There is nothing - absolutely nothing - which is more important to our future - than the education of our children and our grandchildren. To be able to play a role in public education in North Carolina is a tremendous challenge." Kirk and his wife, Margaret, a six-time PTA co-president, have been long-time supporters of public schools. Kirk has four daughters and three grandchildren.

Phil Kirk was appointed to the Board by Gov. Hunt in 1997 to fill an unexpired term. Kirk is a native of Rowan County and a graduate of Catawba College. He is president and secretary of the NC Citizens for Business and Industry and the publisher of North Carolina Magazine.

His extensive list of governmental positions includes serving as Chief of Staff for two former governors and a United States senator. He also served in the N.C. General Assembly and was the youngest state senator in history at the time of his election.

A former English and journalism teacher, Kirk was named Salisbury Teacher of the Year and received the Friend of Education award by the Professional Educators of North Carolina. In addition, he served as the vice chair of the State Board of Community Colleges, treasurer of Smart Start, and the chair-elect of the Public School Forum.

For additional information, contact DPI Communications at 919.807.3450.

Statement from Gov. Easley regarding Phil Kirk's Resignation from the State Board of Edcuation

"Phil Kirk has been an outstanding chair keeping North Carolina in the unique position of linking business closely with education and workforce training. His resignation will leave a huge void. He has set the bar high with his endless commitment and boundless energy by visiting more than 750 schools across the state. I am very grateful to him for his service."

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.