Public offers input on superintendent search


People participate in a public forum seeking input about the hiring of a new Nash-Rocky Mount school superintendent Thursday at Southern Nash High School.


Staff Writer

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education hosted the first of two public forums Thursday night to seek input about the qualities community and staff members want in the next superintendent of the school district.

The event was held in the media center of Southern Nash High School. The forum was organized as a “kitchen table” style forum where four to six participants gathered around a table to discuss the issues before them and write answers to four questions on a large piece of paper. One person at each table then presented their answers to the school and to representatives of the N.C. School Board Association who were present to assist with the process.

Though fewer than 20 participants showed up at this first meeting, school board Chairman Franklin Lamm said that the community was already responding through other avenues. As of Thursday night, Lamm said, 374 online community surveys have been submitted in addition to 345 staff surveys.

Participants at Thursday night’s event were first presented with a card describing what role the superintendent should play in the school district.

“The new superintendent will be the leader of the Nash-Rocky Mount school system, similar to how a principal is the leader of a school. The superintendent is expected to head the schools based on guidance from the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education and is responsible for making sure that the school system runs well and meets its goals,” the card said.

Information provided by the School Board Association also described the duties of a superintendent.

“The superintendent may have many specific duties, including for example, 1) recommending who to hire as teachers, principals and other school employees; 2) overseeing what is taught in schools; 3) developing a budget and making financial decisions; 4) managing school buildings and school construction and renovation projects. Although many of these duties may be assigned to other school employees, the superintendent is ultimately responsible and accountable,” the card stated.

For roughly 30 minutes, the small groups met to answer four assigned questions: What personal characteristics, professional experience and other skills should the board look for in the new superintendent? What interview questions should the board consider asking the candidates? What challenges should the new superintendent be prepared and able to address? What current school system programs and initiatives should the new superintendent be prepared and able to continue?

While responses to these questions varied, some themes remained consistent in the responses. Participants emphasized that they wanted the next superintendent to have an understanding of the needs of the diversity of students in the region, be present and involved in the community and have experience — not only as a superintendent, but also as a teacher.

The next public forum will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the media center of Rocky Mount High School at 1400 Bethlehem Road.

Community members also have other avenues for giving input into the superintendent search process.

The deadline for completing surveys from students, staff and community members is Sept. 25. To access the survey, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PX7CNYK.

Local groups and organizations may also submit written statements concerning what qualities they would like to see in the next superintendent. These statements need to be emailed to Allison Schafer of the N.C. School Board Association at aschafer@ncsba.org. The deadline for these submissions is also Sept. 25.

Staff members with the N.C. School Board Association plan to compile the comments and results of the surveys and present them to the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education to aid school board members in their consideration of the next school superintendent.

Community members can also speak directly to the school board by signing up to speak during the public input portion of regularly held school board meetings.

To sign up, residents must contact the school office by noon on the day of the school board meeting. The next school board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 7 at the administrative building in Nashville.

The application deadline for individuals to apply for the post of superintendent is Oct. 6. The school board has stated that it hopes to have a new superintendent in place by January.