The Franklin County School Board is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach in its search for a new school superintendent. This comes after current Superintendent Mark Church announced in December his plan to retire Aug. 1, although his contract doesn’t expire for another two years.
Now is your chance to make your opinion heard.
In addition to enlisting the help of the Virginia School Boards Association, the school board has launched an online, 11-question survey (paper copies are available at the school board office and in each of the county’s public schools) to engage the community in its search. A public hearing also is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in the East Auditorium.
“Hiring a new superintendent is the biggest task a school board will face, and we want to make sure that the public has a voice in this process,” Julie Nix, school board chair, wrote in a Feb. 14 memo announcing the survey launch. “We hope that parents, staff and residents will take time to fill out the survey or attend the public hearing.”
Part of the survey asks for input on what qualifications a superintendent should have and for users to rank those qualifications on whether they should be required, preferred or if it’s not important. Surveyors also are asked to rank their three top priorities for a superintendent based on leadership and management skills, personal characteristics, board-superintendent relations, staff relations, community relations, school finance and areas of expertise.
The last two questions of the survey are open-ended. One asks what is the one talent or skill a new superintendent should have to do the job well and the other asks what should be a key priority for this person moving forward.
Given that Church has served as superintendent for the past eight years and is ending a 34-year career as an educator (20 of them in Franklin County Public Schools), it’s understandable the board wants community input.
When Church was first appointed as interim superintendent in 2012, he stressed that collaboration was necessary in creating the best learning environment for students.
“Education is a community responsibility,” Church said in a July 12, 2012 article in The Franklin News-Post. “These are your schools, your high school. Even if you don’t have children in school, everybody benefits from a well-educated community.”
Regardless of who is selected, the new leader will have to be a bridge-builder between the school board and board of supervisors to help address hot-button issues, such as what to do about overcrowding in the career and technical facilities at Franklin County High School. Coincidentally, Church was the school system’s director of career and technical education before he was appointed superintendent.
To cast your vote on the qualities for the next superintendent, take the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/FranklinCountySearch, pick up a paper copy or stop by tonight’s meeting.
An opportunity like this doesn’t come around often, especially when it comes to the future of education in our community.