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Firm Takes Input on Superintendent Search

Three parents meet with search firm at WAMS about hunt for superintendent
Dr. Denita Dowell-Reavis

By: Dr. Denita Dowell-Reavis

Seventeen stakeholders gave feedback Tuesday to the search firm in charge of finding the next Alexander County School superintendent. The firm heard from staff, parents, and community members in two sessions March 5th at West Alexander Middle School. They’ll hear from similar groups on the East side on Thursday.

Bethlehem third grade teacher Crissy Williams told the agents she wanted someone who understands school budgets and is a problem-solver.

“If there is some type of restructuring needed, we hope we would be able to keep as many positions as possible,” said Williams.

The district is expected to have a budget shortfall for the 2024-2025 school year due, in part, to declining enrollment.

Williams also said she is looking for stability.

“I would like someone who wants to stay here. Transitions are not my thing,” she added.

Other staff members said they want someone who is approachable and who could work with county commissioners to negotiate local school funding.

Three parents echoed the staff members at a session later in the evening.

“I mean we are currently in a budget crisis. I’m an accountant by trade and I listen to the school board meetings, and I just want to get in there and fix it,” said Natalie Beal, a parent of fourth grader.

The parents agreed they want a candidate who will be highly visible. They also said they hoped an incoming superintendent would focus on the whole child and not test scores.

Dr. Edwin West, a leader at the Masonboro Group who is conducting the search, described the search process to the staffers and parents. He says their feedback will be given to the board.  The board members will then determine the criteria and advertise the position. 

West and Dr. Jim Watson are heading the search for the Alexander County School Board. West last served as interim superintendent for New Hanover County Schools in 2010. Watson stepped down from the superintendent’s chair in Lincoln County in 2007; he’s now a professor at UNC-Charlotte.

West and Watson also explained that the successful candidate legally does not have to have a background in education. Watson added that those who don’t have training in schools and education usually don’t last as long in the role as those who do.

The Masonboro Group plans to advertise and take applications from March 13th till April 19th. They have told Alexander County School Board members they can have a new candidate hired by May 6th.

Dr. Jennifer Hefner announced in January she is retiring July 1st.

The listening sessions for the superintendent search continue at 3:45pm and 7:00pm March 7th at East Alexander Middle School.