, 2015

Residents and school board members
discuss qualifications for superintendent

by Audrey Thomasson

KILMARNOCK—The search for a new school superintendent continued last week with the completion of an online community survey and public meeting to determine the qualifications needed in a new school superintendent.

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Although few parents attended the meeting, those present emphasized the need for someone with experience in moving the schools forward.

“Considering Lancaster’s academic rating of ‘accredited with warning,’ we need a superintendent with experience and background in improving education and moving forward,” said parent and school instruction specialist Tara Booth. “Our students need an awesome educator.”

“We need a superintendent willing to work on a bottom-up management system of student, parent, teacher, principal,” said parent Leighann Washington. Someone who will “take advantage of new technology, (advanced placement) courses..and willing to get to know the principals and teachers and go into schools and get to know students. Teachers feel disconnected to the decision makers.”

NAACP president Lloyd Hill said the most important thing is “diversity.” He stressed the importance of having the same racial ratio in teachers as the student population.

“The superintendent should give every child an opportunity...and be one who realizes education is an investment not an expense,” Hill said. He suggested someone with experience in a similar diverse district and willing to work as a team. “Job one is to get all schools certified and maintain certification.”

Parent Beth Clark said she has an adopted Asian child but doesn’t think the schools need to maintain a 3% diversity match of Asian teachers.

“The superintendent should honor our diversity and not drive a wedge in our community,” said Clark.

Parent and middle school assistant principal Jessica Davis asked for a superintendent who could see the big picture, build on the schools’ strengths and bring the community together.

Schools should provide an environment for learning, but parents need to provide encouragement and a learning environment at home, too, said District 4 resident Spike Nunn. “The superintendent should approach education from both aspects.”

District 2 resident Charlie Costello asked for a leader who builds community, earns trust and respect and works well with supervisors. “Check the background,” he said. “They must be a leader who helps everyone rise. Allow the public to ask questions of candidates.”

“We need someone who understands the rural Virginia school division,” said District 3 school board member Don McCann. “We need to cast our net as wide as possible. In my 11 years on this board there have been four superintendents. We need continuity...someone who grows roots here.”

District 1 member Robert Smart noted the community input matched the qualifications included on the board’s list.

Booth said their list did not include “experience in improving the district.”

“You get experience by making bad decisions,” replied District 3 member and board chairman Dr. Robert Westbrook.

District 4 member Patrick McCranie asked for “a public forum of candidates to ask what they are about.”

“Prospects won’t want their employers to know,” said District 2 member Ella Davis.

Westbrook said he will appoint a committee to advise on how the public could participate in the process.

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