Acting education director appointed

(October 24, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- The state Board of Education is tapping a former legislator to act as interim state education director. Ray Simon is leaving to become an assistant secretary in the federal Education Department. Tom Courtway will fill in until a permanent replacement is chosen. The shakeup comes while the state is under a court order to come up with ways by January first to bring its unconstitutional public school system up to legal standards. Several plans have been developed, although disagreement has been widespread, particularly on the issue of school consolidation. Shelby Hillman, vice chair of the state Board of Education, says Courtway knows how to work under current circumstances since he is a former legislator. The board talked in closed session for about 30 minutes, then voted publicly to hire Courtway yesterday.