Time extension sought in superintendent search

Published 6:47 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2022

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Upcoming holiday breaks prompted the Franklin City School Board to send a request to the Virginia Department of Education for a time extension in the board’s search for a new superintendent.

Robert Holt

Dr. Tamara Sterling, who had been the Franklin City Public Schools superintendent since June 2017, submitted her resignation Sept. 23, and her last day was Oct. 21.

FCPS Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Personnel and Operations Dr. Carlton Carter is serving as interim superintendent while the board conducts its search for a permanent successor to Sterling.

During the board’s Nov. 10 meeting, Ward 1 Board Member and Board Chair Robert Holt said, “There is a guideline from the state that when you have an opening for a superintendent that within 120 days of that vacancy, you have to identify a person that will take that job that you have selected, and within 180 days, that person must start. 

“There is a provision that we can request more time,” he continued. “So because we have three weeks off during the next two months, we have drafted a request to the Virginia Department of Education to allow us to extend those dates to April 30 for identifying that person and to July 1 for an appointment report date. So I would like to ask the board if we have a motion to approve that request.”

Ward 2 Board Member Arwen Councill made a motion, and Ward 6 Board Member Jerry McCreary seconded it.

When Holt asked if there was any discussion, At-Large Board Member and Vice Chair Carrie Johnson said she agreed that the board should look for the extension.

“I can see where having the breaks would impede our progress in any sort of interviewing or putting the information out there for the people,” she said.

Holt said, “I think also what we’re trying to do is find out where we are right now — what our current strengths are, what our current weaknesses are. Some of the information we’ve gotten tonight is helpful, but it would take us a little longer to work on that aspect of it, and perhaps we could start our search right after we come back in January.”

The information that Holt described the board as having gotten that night during the meeting came in the form of comments from members of the public who were sharing what they want to see in the next permanent superintendent.

Councill said she could not remember if a school division has to demonstrate a need to VDOE for the time extension or if it is just something requested and granted, and Holt said the latter scenario was correct.

“When do we have to officially put the opening out for applications?” Councill asked.

“That’s up to us,” Holt replied.

Johnson agreed, noting that the search process has to be done by a certain date, but she did not think requirements existed regarding when the process must start.

Jerry McCreary

Shortly before the vote to approve or disapprove sending the request, McCreary said, “I would just comment to the public that delaying doesn’t mean the board is sitting back, doing nothing. We take (the public’s) concerns very seriously. We’ve been aware of some of these concerns and additional ones.”

Referencing comments made by members of the public during Citizens’ Time, he said he has full confidence in the board and the interim superintendent to take those matters very seriously, indicating that those concerns would help inform the superintendent search.

“I think the extension will help us to do due diligence and gather more input from the public,” he said.

The board voted 5-0 to approve sending the request for the extension to the VDOE. Ward 3 Board Member Tonya Smith was not present for the meeting, and the Ward 4 seat is vacant.