Hart leaving Rowan-Salisbury for Hickory schools
By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury School System’s assistant superintendent for adminstration will be leaving to take over the top spot at Hickory Public Schools.
The Hickory Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to hire Dr. Walter Hart as the new superintendent.
“I am excited over a new opportunity, but I will miss Rowan-Salisbury Schools and I will miss Rowan County,” he told the Post Tuesday.
Hart, who has worked for Rowan-Salisbury since 2007, will take the reins Nov. 1. He will stay here until he begins the new post.
In his current role, he is responsible for supervising the system’s 35 principals, a student enrollment of about 20,000 and managing a $20 million budget.
“In the years that Dr. Hart has been serving as assistant superintendent for administration for our district, he has worked to build relationships with parents and with our community,” Rowan-Salisbury Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom said in a statement. “I wish the very best to him as he moves forward in his career and steps into the shoes of serving as a district superintendent.”
Hart has also served as the district’s athletic director and worked with school personnel, parents and students to resolve discipline issues and complaints.
He said the problem-solving skills he’s garnered through the position will help as he transitions to his new role.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with the community and the principals,” he said. “Oftentimes the issues that I’ve dealt with have been conflict-ridden so I’ve had a real opportunity to develop my mediation skills, my communication skills and my conflict management skills.”
Hart said he’s also grown under the direction of Grissom.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work for a great superintendent who really has focused on curriculum and instruction so I’ve learned a lot from her,” he said.
Hart, who grew up in Charlotte, began his career as a social studies teacher at Concord High School in 1986.
He held various assistant principal and principal positions before becoming an assistant superintendent 12 years ago.
Superintendent was a career aspirations he’s aspired to for many years, Hart said.
“It’s something where I always wanted to make sure it’s the right time and the right place,” he said.
Hart said he realized Hickory was the right place after talking with former superintendent Dr. Lillie Cox.
“She was very complimentary of their board and the community, she encouraged me to apply” he said.
After relocating to Hickory from China Grove, Hart plans to spend time getting to know people within both the school system and the community.
“I want to establish the relationships that you need in order to be successful,” he said.
It’s the people of Rowan County Hart says he’ll miss the most.
“I’ve worked with some really good people,” he said. “There is something to be learned every single day, in the past four years I’ve learned an awful lot form the people I’ve work with and been able to interact with.”
When Hart begins in Hickory, he said he’ll focus on closing the student achievement gap.
“Dr. Hart is not content with Hickory Public Schools to maintain the status quo, but rather, he desires to lead our district as we create systems for change — engaging in the empowerment of other to further develop and improve achievement,” Joab Cotton, chairman of the Hickory school board, said in a press release.
Hart is the second-highest paid employee for Rowan-Salisbury schools behind Grissom.
His salary was more than $128,000 last year.
He is also the second administrator to leave the district this year.
Gene Miller, the assistant superintendent of operations, retired at the end of August. He was the third-highest paid employee in the district, banking more than $123,000 last year.
As a budgetary measure, the school system froze Miller’s position, but spokeswoman Rita Foil said the district will fill Hart’s shoes.
The district will be posting the vacancy.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.