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  • Parent Jackie Gottleib expresses her expectations for the next selected superintendent. Ashley Kairis • Clay County Progress

Community gives input for superintendent

On Tuesday, June 4, two consultant firm representatives hosted a meeting with the public to compile a list of desired qualities to seek out in the search for Clay County’s next superintendent. Interim superintendent Scotty Penland made a brief appearance at the start of the meeting to speak with the handful of attendees and introduce the consultants. 

“It’s been a long, tough year and I’m just wanting to help direct the board in the right direction by hiring a consulting group. It’s their job to gather information and sit with the board to look at characteristics they want to put on the application. Then they will go out and actively seek people who meet that criteria and who will fit in a small community,” said Penland. 

Both retired superintendents themselves, Ron Melchiorre and Dr. Eddie West of the Masonboro Group took the meeting on from there, explaining the process a bit further. 

“We’re here to listen to you. You tell us what you think and what you want in a superintendent and we try to find the best match. Our group’s interdisciplinary team screens our superintendent candidates very carefully by their academic and certification achievements, an extensive social media search, background checks, credit check, criminal background check and reference checks,” said West. 

Speaking on his behalf and Melchiorre’s, West said, “We have both served as superintendents in small districts, so we understand the dynamics of small communities.” 

The two men met in a group setting the morning of June 4 with 85 of the school system’s 112 teachers. According to West, everyone seemed to be “on the same page” in those discussions. 

Giving the rundown on next steps, West said the Masonboro Group will be summarizing and compiling the input they received from school staff, teachers, parents and the public and providing an update to the Clay County Board of Education during their Monday, June 17 meeting. This update will give the recommended criteria for the board to use in the application for the next superintendent. 

According to West, the board can then add to that list or delete from it before dispersing the application. The job application will then go online through the Masonboro Group’s website and the school’s website before being also sent to the N.C. School Board Association, the N.C. Association of School Administrators and all the universities in the state that produce superintendents. 

Candidates are usually narrowed down to six, according to West, and the school board would interview those six before consolidating down to a final two or potentially three and from those, one person would be selected with the hopes of a long-term and promising superintendency. Various parents and community members including a prior Clay County principal took the floor for about 30 minutes, expressing their hopes for the next superintendent. Compiling their feedback into a list and presenting it at the end of the meeting, Melchiorre shared the following 11 characteristics: 

• Someone who does not over administrate principals and delegate duties, hands-on but allows people to succeed. 

• Knows the curricula and instruction parts of the system. 

• Will move forward by holding onto traditional cultures. 

• Must get to know community, staff and students before setting high bars and goals. 

• Able to do conflict resolution and team building while holding staff and students accountable while these changes occur. 

• Will need support from school board. 

• Should be the decision maker, using the processes of listening and someone who can talk calculated risks. 

• Board should remain out of the day to day operations. 

• Excellent communication skills between board, staff and parents. 

• Have hopes to continue positive things, but also be able to address things head-on. 

• Must be able to earn respect of staff and parents by giving respect. 

According to West, when all is said and done and there is a newly appointed superintendent for the county, the Masonboro Group intends to stick with the board and the candidate for 3-6 months at no charge to ensure a healthy transition and give any needed advice. 

By Ashley Kairis: Staff writer

Clay County Progress

Mailing Address: PO Box 483, Hayesville, NC 28904
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