NASHVILLE — A Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools educator and an alumnus of the school district both told the school board what they would like to be considered when choosing the future superintendent.
Scott Hendricks said he was speaking as a teacher, a taxpayer and a concerned lifelong Nash County resident. Hendricks was followed at the podium by Bronson Williams, who owns television station WNCR and is a candidate for mayor of Rocky Mount.
The two addressed the board during the public comment phase of Monday’s regular board meeting.
Hendricks’ and Williams’ remarks came in the aftermath of the board accepting Superintendent Shelton Jefferies’ resignation at a July 29 special called meeting that went into closed session. Jefferies’ resignation took effect on Friday.
Hendricks, who teaches at Southern Nash High School, focused on the words “local,” “proactive,” “empower” and “accountability” in making his comments.
“We need a superintendent who is a community stakeholder and understands the dynamics between Rocky Mount and Nash County,” Hendricks told the board.
Jefferies had a well-documented history of issues, including that he and his wife had purchased a $620,000 residence north of Charlotte after he was hired.
Hendricks told the board he believes they need to ask questions such as, “Has the candidate worked here?” “Does the candidate live here?” and “What is their personal and professional link to our community?”
He said he believes many applicants will see this job as merely a stepping stone in their personal journey.
“Just remember that after they are gone, you, I and our students will still be here. What will be their legacy?” he asked.
He also told the board he believes members must be deliberate in initiating conversations with teachers and parents as to what is needed in the future superintendent.
“The opinions of citizens throughout the entire county must be sought out and considered,” he said.
He also told the board he believes the next superintendent needs to understand true transformation begins at the local school and not at the central office. He called for giving principals and teachers the power they need to be successful.
“The next superintendent must understand that the talent pool at our schools can accomplish much more than a bloated bureaucracy that has hindered innovation and opportunities for student achievement,” he said.
He told the board he believes the future superintendent should set high standards of professionalism and conduct for teachers and hold them accountable.
“Teachers that will not get on board should be given the opportunity to find employment elsewhere,” he said.
Williams told the board he chooses to use the words “the best qualified candidate” in selecting the future superintendent.
Williams said he believes when it comes to the students in Nash-Rocky Mount schools, “We certainly want to be sure that they do have effective leadership in the superintendent’s office.”
Williams said, however, he believes what is strikingly alarming to him is there seems to be a culture with the board “of how we treated our past two superintendents.”
“And maybe that’s how the superintendent treated the board,” he said.
He said he does not know, but he can certainly read tea leaves, so to speak.
“And so I think that it is wise for us to be sure that we are united in our approach, that we do reach a true consensus and not a compromise,” he said.
“These things are certainly critical as we look for the new superintendent,” he said, also noting he hopes there are public input sessions.
The school board met late Monday afternoon for a work session before going into closed session and met for the regular meeting before again going into closed session.
Near the end of the work session, the board heard from N.C. School Boards Association legal counsel Allison Schafer, who offered her and her team’s services in assisting with a search for the future superintendent. Near the end of the regular meeting, the board voted to hire the association to help with the search.
Schafer, in documents, said the association anticipates the cost will be between $25,000-$30,000, depending on the amount of additional expenses incurred by the board.
The board, in a 9-2 vote on July 29, named Chief of Staff Brian Miller acting superintendent until an interim superintendent could be appointed.
School district spokeswoman Patricia Hollingsworth on Tuesday told the Telegram the board on Monday did not name an interim superintendent.