Culver recruit taking job in Texas
CHAMPAIGN – Ecomet Burley has been chosen to be superintendent of a Texas school district.
The La Marque, Texas, school board chose Burley in a Thursday night meeting. Under Texas law, the district now has 21 days to negotiate a contract with him.
Burley has been an assistant superintendent for the Champaign school district since 2003, when he came here from Houston. He previously had been chief officer of customer services for the Region Four Educational Service Center, which serves 35 school districts in the Houston area.
He has not yet negotiated a start date with the Texas school district, but he'd like to be there when school is in session in January.
Burley said that being a superintendent has been a goal of his for some time, but he has mixed emotions about leaving Champaign. He said Champaign Superintendent Arthur Culver has been a mentor to him, and working as an administrator in Champaign has given him the confidence to lead another school district.
"Coming from here and dealing with all the different dynamics of the Champaign schools and the issues on the table, I feel very prepared to go and tackle the challenges that La Marque faces. It's been a great training ground," Burley said.
"It's been great being here. I have very mixed emotions about leaving," he continued. "I've enjoyed working here with the administrative team and the community. I'm excited about the opportunity (in La Marque) and I'm looking forward to tackling the challenges I'll be faced with."
Burley also said he'd like to return home to Texas. His mother lives there, and "being close to her means a lot to me."
The La Marque Independent School District, between Galveston and Houston, has a diverse student body of 3,750 students, Burley said.
Culver has known Burley since 1992, when they both worked for the La Marque school district – Burley as an elementary principal and Culver as director of curriculum and instruction for the district.
"I really watched him grow. He's really blossomed into a high-quality administrator who has accomplished a lot over his career," Culver said. "I watched him bring a campus that was riddled with a lot of discipline problems and low student achievement, and he took that campus and made it an award-winning campus in the state of Texas."
Culver later recruited him as a middle school principal for another district "because of the respect for him and confidence I had in his abilities. He took over a very troubled middle school and turned it around."
When Culver came to Champaign, he again recruited Burley.
"I knew he had the right stuff to assist us with our challenges," Culver said.
Currently, Burley oversees discipline, the two high schools and Columbia Center, alternative education programs, and health services.
"He's really been a valuable asset to our administrative team," Culver said.
"I'm real happy for him because I know it's been a career goal and something he's been working toward for some time, but I'm sad for the district because I know it's a real loss for us," he said.
"La Marque is getting a gem, and we're losing a valuable person," he added.
Assistant Superintendent Beth Shepperd said the district will eventually name someone to take over Burley's duties until a search can be conducted for a new administrator.
Burley's wife, Frances, works for the Champaign school district as principal of Dr. Howard Elementary School. Ecomet Burley said they have not yet decided when she will leave Champaign to join him in Texas.
Culver called Frances Burley "one of our great principals."