Lavin: Involve community leaders in superintendent search

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Pasquotank County Commissioner Sean Lavin addresses members of the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Board of Education during the last community forum held as part of the board's search for a new superintendent, Tuesday.


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, December 10, 2018

The last in the series of community forums held to receive public input on the next superintendent for the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools brought out the largest crowd yet. Eight members of the public pleaded for a top administrator who will be visible in the schools and community, and who will communicate readily with staff, parents and students.

Among those who addressed the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Board of Education at last week’s forum at Pasquotank Elementary School was Sean Lavin, who took a seat last week on the Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners.

Lavin, who said he was speaking as a parent, agreed with other speakers that the next superintendent should be someone who is invested in the community. He also suggested that the school board explore whether it would be possible — given legal requirements related to confidentiality — to involve community leaders with experience hiring executives in the search process. Lavin cited the chancellor search process at Elizabeth City State University as an example of how community leaders could be included in the superintendent search.

Attendance and participation at last week’s forum outpaced that at three previous forums. No one spoke at a forum held at Weeksville Elementary School, two people addressed the board at a forum at Museum of The Albemarle, and Rodney Walton — one of the two who spoke at the MOA forum — was the sole speaker at a forum at Northside Elementary School.

Last week’s forum also featured something missing from the three previous sessions: brief give-and-take between the audience and school board members as the forum drew to a close.

Earlier in the evening Walton, who again took the opportunity to address the board, said he regretted the board had not set the forums up in a dialogue format. Board members replied that they had been advised it was the proper procedure to have listening sessions in which the board would not respond to questions from the public.

But late in the forum audience members began to ask questions, many of them focused on a desire to strengthen vocational education in the schools.

Board of Education Chairwoman Sharon Warden said the schools already have good offerings in career and technical education but acknowledged room for improvement. In particular it would be great to offer more apprenticeships and internships, which seem to have become less common in recent years, Warden said.

Sheila Williams, a school board member who works in the teacher education program at ECSU, said one of the challenges is attracting students who want to become career and technical education teachers.

Another audience member asked whether students can participate in the online survey seeking input on the superintendent search. Warden responded that they can, and said school officials could even take a look at whether the survey could be tweaked to offer a version that is more oriented toward ECPPS students.

George Archuleta, who was sworn in as a new member of the school board last Monday, said he strongly supports student participation in the survey.

“This feels a lot like dialogue, and I like that,” Walton remarked.

Other speakers earlier in the forum said they want to see a superintendent who’s both engaged and involved in the community.

Latoyia Bailey said the next superintendent should have experience as a classroom teacher and should understand the Pasquotank County community.

Millie Griffith said she’d like to see a superintendent who visits schools and interacts with students.

Leslie Otts said she wants to see a superintendent who’s active in the community.

Northeastern High School Principal Angela Cobb told the school board the superintendent should be invested in the community. Cobb urged the board to consider local candidates, saying there are talented and dedicated educators “already in our ranks.”