Davenport superintendent blames state battles for decision to step down

DAVENPORT -

Dr. Art Tate is stepping down as Davenport Superintendent on October 31, 2018.  The decision is eight months ahead of his planned retirement and comes at a critical time for the school district.

In the end, Dr. Tate says the fight for fair school funding sapped his professional strength and made him a distraction.

"The never-ending conflict and negativity, which is unfortunately a part of public education, has affected my ability to remain strong and calm," he read from a statement on Friday, October 26.

Dr. Tate defied Des Moines and angered state officials by intentionally spending cash reserves to equalize school funding in his district.

"It's been a long difficult road," said Davenport School Board President Ralph Johanson.

The "Worth-Less" movement brought the issue to the forefront by fighting an outdated formula that shortchanges nearly half of Iowa's districts.

Dr. Tate's stance made him a hero to hundreds of Iowa schools facing the same dilemma.

"It would be immoral not to use the reserves, regardless of consequences," he said during a state hearing in 2016.

But it also resulted in a state reprimand and threatened school board members with impeachment.

"It's been a long hard slog," Johanson continued.  "It really has, working with the legislature."

More recently, Dr, Tate says he fell short with unequal treatment of students, especially regarding discipline.

"I did not prioritize the need to address differences in the way students are excluded from classrooms and school," he continued.  "That was a serious failing on my part."

The school board will plan special meetings to discuss leadership issues in the short and long term.  There are also possible school closures, budget and management issues looming over the district.

"I believe that the board and the community strongly supports Dr. Tate," Johanson said.

But on Friday, box in hand, the superintendent departs in the dark.