Every description of School Board Responsibilities lists somewhere the responsibility for choosing a new superintendent. That time is now for Rock Hill Three. Our current superintendent, Lynn Moody, resigned from Rock Hill 3 and will be moving back to North Carolina in late September to be superintendent of the Rowan-Salisbury School District.
The process of hiring a new superintendent has already begun. Last Friday the Board met for almost three hours with three major topics of discussion. One was to choose an interim superintendent until a permanent one is hired. John Taylor, who worked for RH3 during the 90’s and was later superintendent in Lancaster, agreed to take the temporary post. He lives in Fort Mill and several on the Board remember him from earlier years. He is remembered as a knowledgeable, calm, and consensus-seeking leader who should allow the Board to focus on finding the best superintendent for Rock Hill in this era of iPads and Common Core.
Secondly, the Board decided [correction: We discussed. No vote was taken.] whether our search will be open or closed. That means whether the Board will share with the public the names of all those considered or closed with only the top four or so finalists publicized – as in the recent search for York County Administrator.
As with many tough decisions I see both sides. My gut says this affects our community so strongly that our community should be informed of all we do. However, I have been on this process from the candidate side. When I came down from Dayton, Ohio, that spring break in 1998 I did not tell my superintendent in Ohio that I was looking for another job closer to my ailing parents in Georgia. Nor would I have wanted him to find out through a newspaper article. I certainly called him as soon as I received an offer to be principal of Finley Road. Had I not gotten that offer I would not likely have told him. Likewise, many candidates feel that if their application for another job fails then their relationships in their current job will be damaged. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong or both but we will be following the closed process. [Correction: Discussed but not yet decided.] I am interested in hearing reader’s opinions.
Our third task also needs input from our community. Our first and most important task as a Board is reaching agreement on the characteristics we desire in a superintendent. We have already started. An important step for our Board was last November when we spent a day at the stone house at Winthrop deciding on our goals.
- Goal 1: Improve the academic achievement of students at all grades.
- Goal 2: Provide on-going staff development to support teachers in using iPad and new methods of teaching and learning.
- Goal 3: Increase community involvement in public schools.
- Goal 4: Improve communication with all stakeholders in our schools.
I chair the Academic Improvement Committee, a Board Subcommittee that will regularly monitor student progress through this year. As a former principal, not surprisingly, I think knowledge of curriculum and the use of data for planning is important for our new superintendent. I think it is important for our candidates to be knowledgeable in elementary, middle, and high school curriculum. In my opinion, for several years our district office administrators have been top-heavy in those with primarily middle or high school backgrounds, and too few with detailed knowledge of elementary instruction. Like the recent Belk Foundation Educational Funding announcement, I believe that keeping all children from Kindergarten to Grade 3 on or above grade level will deliver the biggest district improvement over the coming years. Laser focus on this task will greatly improve later-year learning, with less required remediation.
As important as knowledge of curriculum is, it doesn’t touch on important characteristics like honesty and a passionate interest in our students. To me looking for evidence of effective management in improving school achievement is important.
However, as we share our opinions as individual Board members our final list of characteristics will blend our thoughts. Understand that choosing this person is the job of the Board. But we make decisions as representatives for our community. What characteristics are important to you in a superintendent?