Surveys: Next schools chief must seek resources


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, July 17, 2017

CAMDEN — Camden County Schools’ next superintendent needs to be a skilled advocate for more resources.

That’s according to surveys completed by both the public and Camden County Schools staff on what trait is considered most important in a new Camden schools leader.

The surveys of both the public and school staff were conducted by the N.C. School Boards Association, which is assisting the Camden Board of Education in its search for a successor to Melvin Hawkins, who retired as Camden schools superintendent this spring.

Tanya Giovanni of NCSBA presented the survey results to school board members Thursday night. In her presentation, she noted that both school district staff and the community chose the survey option “understands how to effectively advocate for resources needed to operate the schools” as the most important trait for the next superintendent.

Both the ongoing issue of annual operating funds and the plan to build a new high school make the question of funding for the Camden school district a high priority.

Giovanni explained that the survey results are useful for developing a leadership profile of what the school board is looking for in its next superintendent. The profile, in turn, will be helpful in formulating questions to ask the candidates who apply, she said. The school district’s deadline for receiving applications for the superintendent’s post is today.

According to Giovanni, the community and staff surveys listed the same top five characteristics desired in the district’s next leader, but in a slightly different order. For instance, the community survey ranked second in importance “knows how to get staff, students, parents and community to work together to help children learn,” which was third on the staff survey.

The community’s third priority was “understands how to provide safe environments for students and staff.” That was fourth in the staff survey.

“Has strong human relations or ‘people skills’” was fourth for the community and second in the staff survey.

Both the community and staff ranked as the fifth priority “understands school finance, budgets and business management.”

The NCSBA received 87 completed community surveys and 111 completed staff surveys, Giovanni reported. About 85 percent of those who participated in the community survey indicated they have children attending the Camden County Schools, she said.

The rankings for the 24 identified characteristics in the community and staff surveys tracked fairly close to each other. Giovanni said it was good to see the staff and community on the same page in so many respects.

There were some interesting differences, however. Staff ranked “supports firm discipline in schools” as sixth while the community respondents ranked it 10th.

Prior experience as a successful superintendent came in near the end on both surveys, at 22nd on the staff survey and 23rd on the community survey.

In last place on the community survey was “should continue the current direction of the school system.” That also was 23rd on the staff survey.

The school board hopes to have a new superintendent in place by early November.