A half-dozen speakers weighed in on what attributes they want to see in the next Iredell-Statesville Schools superintendent.
The public comments came on Monday night at the I-SS Board of Education meeting.
Six people voiced their opinions as the board prepares to replace current Superintendent Brady Johnson, who has announced his plans to leave the role at the conclusion of this school year.
Iredell County citizen Kevin Johnson thanked Johnson for his service to the school system and urged the board to seek candidates within I-SS, not only those outside of the district.
“We’re searching far and wide. That’s great. We need to get the best candidate,” Johnson said. “I would like to make sure that we maybe don’t miss folks that are right under our noses, people who are already in the system.”
Iredell citizen Cindy Haynes, a former I-SS board member, said that the board should hire a superintendent who is as fiscally responsible as possible and someone who respects the decisions and directives of the board.
She also said that she wanted a superintendent who supports classroom teachers, describing teachers as “the front line of education” and having a direct impact on students’ passion for learning.
Statesville NAACP president Todd Scott and NAACP member and former I-SS board member Skip McCall said that they wanted a selection process absent of partisan politics.
“Partisan politics has no place in this process,” McCall said, calling for transparency and honesty in the hiring process.
“We don’t want y’all to hire somebody just because you know them and they’re in another district,” Scott said. “We want y’all to hire the best person for this district.”
Both Scott and McCall also said that they wanted a superintendent who will promote diversity within the school system.
“We need a leader who understands and embraces diversity and inclusion,” McCall said, “someone who is a visionary thinker who has the courage to make bold decisions that are in the best interest of our students.”
Scott said that he was especially concerned with the lack of diversity among I-SS school principals.
“Thirty-seven schools and three minority principals. Something’s not right with that in my mind,” Scott said.
Two Lake Norman Elementary teachers spoke during the public comment — fourth-grade teacher Bethany Orr and kindergarten teacher Sherry Morris.
Both Orr and Morris said that the school system needed a superintendent who has hands-on experience at every level of I-SS, from teaching to administration.
“There are leaders that are nouns, and there are leaders that are verbs,” Orr said. “Noun leaders are plentiful. They can be found in any organization. Verb leaders are in short supply, but when you find them, they’re action-oriented, and they get things done.
“They don’t need that title on their door, because they are rarely found in their office. Iredell-Statesville Schools needs a verb leader.”
Board member Ken Poindexter said there were 964 submissions for the superintendent search survey on the I-SS website. He encouraged more community members to make submissions.
In other news at the meeting, the board decided that it was up to Johnson and the Statesville High principal’s discretion if the IB program should be implemented at Statesville High.
Board chairman Martin Page said that it is the board’s job to ensure that the school system’s policies and budget are followed, not to implement the curriculum of the school system.
“It is not the board of education’s duty to make a curriculum decision for the individual school,” Page said.
“The curriculum they use at Statesville High School is the responsibility and decision of the superintendent, principal and school improvement team.”