Edgecombe school board hires new superintendent
By AMELIA HARPER
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
TARBORO — Edgecombe County Public Schools made history Monday night by electing the first black female superintendent to lead the school system.
Dr. Valerie Bridges, who has served as associate superintendent of Edgecombe County Public Schools for more than four years, was awarded a four-year contract as the district’s new superintendent after a lengthy closed session and a unanimous vote of the board. Bridges is the first woman to serve in the role.
“I am ecstatic and appreciative of this opportunity,” Bridges said. “I have worked with the school board in the role of associate superintendent for four and a half years and am looking forward to working with them in the future.”
Bridges will replace Superintendent John Farrelly, who accepted a job with Dare County Schools on June 10. Farrelly said he has worked with Bridges for roughly eight years, serving together with her in Washington County before both accepted positions with Edgecombe County Public Schools about five years ago.
“Dr. Bridges is a woman of integrity and is well-respected by the school district and the community,” Farrelly said. “I am elated the school board chose her. I am sure most of the teachers and administrators will be happy with this news. This move will ensure continuity for the plans we have set for the school district, since Dr. Bridges has been a big part of those plans.”
School board attorney Deborah Stagner said the exact details of Bridges contract have not yet been released. However, she said Bridges would earn the state stipend plus $20,000, or roughly the same amount of money Farrelly is currently earning. Farrelly’s salary with Edgecombe County Public Schools is $155,000.
Before voting to appoint the superintendent, the school board had to first vote to override their own policies. Local school board policy requires that the school board search and interview candidates both outside and inside the school district before making a hiring decision. However, the school board voted unanimously to waive that requirement in order to offer Bridges the helm of the school district before Farrelly officially leaves his post at the end of June.
Farrelly gave a tearful goodbye speech earlier in the evening as he recounted his journey with the school district over the past five years.
“The confidence and the energy and the synergy that has gone on and been developed in the past five years is amazing, but we have so much further to go. This has been my life — not just my job — it’s been my life. We have loved living here, the community has embraced us,” Farrelly said.
However, Farrelly said he is confident that Edgecombe County Public Schools is on a good path.
“We still have mountains of challenges to go, but every single day for the last five years we have made progress. There is a lot to be said about where you go from here, but part of the strength of an organization is that when you lose the leadership cog, you close the gap quickly.and you keep it moving. I feel absolutely sure that is what is going to happen,” Farrelly said.