Tempe Elementary School District Superintendent Arthur Tate will leave the district and start a new job in Iowa July 1.

The 16,000-student Davenport Community Schools governing board offered its superintendent position to Tate on Monday night.

Tate said he has accepted the job and is in contract negotiations.

"It's a larger school district with all the challenges that come with having a pre-K through 12th-grade structure," Tate said of his interest in Davenport. "Their job description was looking for someone active in the classroom and community, which is what I am doing and want to do in any district I am associated with."

Tate's departure will leave the Tempe district in need of a new leader, but Tate said he is committed to finishing the job going on now as the district is facing potential budget cuts, including merging or closing schools.

The district is looking at ways to cut up to $5 million next school year because of the state's budget situation and declining enrollment. Tate told a group of parents and community members late last month that there are 2,600 empty seats in Tempe schools this year.

At the top of a list of 44 potential budget-cutting steps are merging four elementary schools into two and closing McKemy Middle School.

"It is my intention that we'll have these problems and challenges of the budget behind us by the time I leave," Tate said. "We'll be on our way to another great school year. The people I work with ... are the finest I've ever known. They will do fine when I'm gone."

Governing board president Jim Lemmon said Tate has been an asset and strong leader for the district. But Lemmon's also confident in the Tempe staff.

"The folks we have currently on our team are certainly capable of running our school district. If we ask them to do more, they will do more," he said.

The Tempe school board's next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 16, though the board could call an executive session to discuss personnel issues prior to that, said district spokeswoman Monica Allread.

Tate has been superintendent of the Tempe Elementary school district for six years, leading the district through trying times, including cuts of $11 million over the past three years as the state has slashed education funding to grapple with the budget deficit.

Besides years of education experience, Tate served in the U.S. Army for nine years and taught at West Point.

Davenport Community Schools is in a metro area of about 150,000 people. There are 2,300 employees, including 1,200 teachers, in 19 elementary schools, six intermediate schools for students in grades six through eight and three senior high schools, plus an alternative education school. It covers 109 square miles.

Tate's departure would make the second superintendency opening in Tempe. Tempe Union High School District Superintendent Steve Adolph announced late last year that he will retire June 30. That district has already begun its search for a new leader.

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