Six apply for superintendent job

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, May 17, 2022

SALISBURY — As of Monday morning, six people have applied to be the next superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

The application closed on Monday as well. Board chair Dean Hunter said four applications were received during the weekend.

He said the board has not started to review the applications yet, noting the board cannot have larger discussions unless it is with a quorum during a meeting.

“I have not even seen any of them individually,” Hunter said.

He said the board has not set a time to begin reviewing the applications either.

“There’s nothing that says we have to make a decision now,” Hunter said. “It’s in our court.”

Recent surveys of the profession show many superintendents are considering leaving their posts and find parts of the job increasingly difficult. An executive summary of consultancy firm EAB’s annual superintendent survey says most superintendents have been working around the clock since March of 2020 “navigating a constant roller coaster of state and federal mandates, the absence of guidance from authorities when it was needed most and communities with opposing opinions on every key decision.”

Hunter said the fields for every role in education are getting slimmer, from teachers to the highest level of administration. The entire state is facing shortages of key staff including teachers, bus drivers and nutrition workers.

“My personal frustration is so many people don’t want to stay where they are, whether it’s administration or superintendent or cabinet level in all of our systems,” Hunter said.

Dates have not been set for a community forum on the superintendent search. Hunter said the forums would not involve candidates but he is hoping the board hosts several forums at different sites so more people have the chance to come.

He said the board hopes to have more specifics on the forums after next Monday’s meeting.

The board spent nearly two hours in closed session during a meeting last week, and one member stormed out of Wallace Educational Forum before it ended, but Hunter said the superintendent search was only discussed briefly.

Hunter said the board does not have a goal date for hiring a superintendent, adding the immediate priority was to get some stability after former Superintendent Tony Watlington departed in April and the district was still looking to fill leadership positions in its finance department. The board immediately appointed Jason Gardner to serve as interim superintendent and since has appointed new leadership to the finance department, including appointing Faith Lambeth as the district’s new chief finance officer.

“We felt like what we need to do is establish a good foundation and some stability before we made any quick or knee-jerk reactions,” Hunter said.

Hunter said he believes the cabinet level of the administration is established and Gardner is a capable interim.

“He knows the people, he knows the moving parts, the day-to-day operations, so we’re definitely in a stable position right now,” Hunter said.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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