School board to consider superintendent appointment Friday

Published 12:10 am Thursday, August 25, 2022

SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education will meet in a special session on Friday which may cap off a months-long search for a new superintendent.

The meeting, called by school board Chair Dean Hunter, will be held “to consider the initial employment of an individual as it relates to the superintendent vacancy.”

If the board makes an appointment, it will be the result of hours of deliberations during the past two weeks.

The board met in a separate closed session meeting on Monday related to the superintendent search and discussed this issue in closed session held during a regular meeting later that day. The board recessed closed session to handle public business then went back into closed session for nearly two hours. Last week, the district met for more than eight hours to conduct interviews.

After Monday’s board meeting adjourned, Chair Dean Hunter said the board would appoint a new superintendent “soon” and needed to schedule a follow up meeting. He said the board had narrowed the field.

The board has been searching for someone new to lead the district since Tony Watlington resigned the post in April and moved on to take over as superintendent of Philadelphia’s public schools. He served 15 months at the helm of the district. The application period originally closed in May, but the board extended the window to August in an effort to get more applicants.

Initially the board discussed hosting public forums on the appointment, but none have materialized since the extension. The board received 10 applications.

The district has seen several high-level posts turn over in past year. Watlington’s departure followed the departure of former Chief Schools Officer Kelly Withers and Chief Finance Officer Carol Herndon, both for the same jobs in Cabarrus County Schools.

Jason Gardner was interim superintendent for RSS until recently when he was tapped to lead Mooresville Graded School District. Gardner described the move as good for his family. He lives in Mooresville.

Chief Human Resources Officer Jill Hall-Freeman is department the district as well. She has been named the next western area superintendent for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools.

April Kuhn, the district’s chief student services officer, is the most recent interim appointee. Kuhn was appointed on July 21. Gardner’s last day was Aug. 5.

The meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at Wallace Educational Forum.

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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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