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Salt Lake school board appoints middle school principal as interim superintendent

Larry Madden was appointed to a one-year term as interim superintendent of the Salt Lake City School District on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.
Salt Lake City School District

SALT LAKE CITY — Larry Madden, a long-time science educator and administrator, was appointed Tuesday to a one-year term as interim superintendent of the Salt Lake City School District.

The seven-person Salt Lake City Board of Education voted 5-0 to appoint Madden, principal of Bryant Middle School, with board members Kristi Swett and Mike Nemelka abstaining.

Madden will succeed Superintendent Lexi Cunningham, who along with business administrator Janet Roberts, resigned from the school district in late January amid conflict with the board and divisions among board members themselves. Cunningham and Roberts agreed to serve until the end of the school year.

Cunningham was recently selected as the new executive director of the Utah School Superintendents Association.

The board’s search for the district’s next superintendent is underway. Cunningham had served as superintendent of the Salt Lake schools since 2016.

The board also appointed Alan Kearsley, the district’s finance director since 2006, to a two-year term as the district’s business administrator. Both men start their new positions on July 1.

Board President Melissa Ford, in a statement, said Madden and Kearsley have each demonstrated great leadership over their decades of service to the school district

“They know our district, they are skilled in their respective roles, and they are both well-positioned to lead our district in a way that supports our commitment to excellence and equity for every student,” Ford said.

Madden has taught science at Bryant Middle School and West High School. He also served as the district’s science specialist.

He founded the Salt Lake Center for Science Education and served as its principal from 2007 to 2015.

He later served as the school district’s chief operations officer and supervised the school district’s high school principals and district charter school principals.

Madden has served as chairman of the Governor’s Science Advisory Council, on the Utah Technology Commercialization and Innovation Program committee, and as a member of the Utah Science and Mathematics Consortium board of directors.

Madden holds a bachelor of science in geology from Idaho State University; a master’s of education from the University of Utah; a secondary education credential from the University of Colorado; and an administrative/supervisory endorsement from Southern Utah University,

Kearsley is an experienced certified public accountant with 26 years of government accounting experience, including 22 with the Salt Lake City School District.

As the district’s finance director, Kearsley has overseen the district’s financial systems, including budgeting, purchasing, financial reporting, accounts payable, payroll and school accounting.

He previously worked in the Utah State Auditor’s office. Kearsley, who speaks Spanish fluently, earned a bachelor of arts in accounting and a master of professional accountancy, from the University of Utah.

The Salt Lake City School District, which serves about 22,000 students, has experienced shrinking enrollment in recent years. Most state school funding formulas are based on enrollment, so declining head counts pose challenges in terms of school finance, staffing and building utilization.

The Salt Lake School District is a minority-majority school district, meaning there are more ethnic minority students than white students. Nearly 59% of Salt Lake students qualify for free or reduced-price school breakfast and lunch, according to the district’s demographics.