School board seeks public input for superintendent search

By Kim Walter

Shenandoah County parents, school staff and residents still have time to express their opinions about a new superintendent.

The Shenandoah County School Board hopes to find a permanent superintendent by October to replace outgoing superintendent B. Keith Rowland, who said he would retire at the end of his contract on June 30.

Gary Rutz, school board chairman, said a survey has been used before when looking for a new division leader.

A link to the survey can be found at the school division’s website, and a hard copy can be picked up at the school board office in Woodstock.

The survey goes over necessary criteria for a superintendent, including education and training, personal characteristics, community relations and school finance. Participants can rank their top three priorities in a number of categories.

Those taking the survey also can rate how important it is that the new superintendent has a doctorate, experience as a superintendent, experience as a teacher, work experience in Virginia and residency in the school division.

There are also two open ended questions at the end of the survey asking what one talent or skill a new superintendent should have to “do this job well,” and what “issue” the new superintendent should first deal with.

The survey is anonymous, but asks what category a participant might identify with – parent, teacher, administrator and business, among others.

Rutz said community members will also have the chance to voice their thoughts on the topic at a public hearing at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17. The public hearing will take place at the Shenandoah County Government Center, and will “run like most public hearings,” in that speakers can sign up and have three minutes to address the School Board.

After going through survey responses and notes from the public hearing, Rutz thinks the opinions will have “quite a bit of impact” on the search for a new superintendent.

“The school board has six members, but this search involves the whole community, and we want to hear from as many people as possible,” he said. “We definitely want to keep in mind what the people want in a superintendent.”

Rutz said he knows that residents have opinions on such leadership positions, and wants them to know that the School Board values their opinions when faced with such a “big task.”

We hope that parents, staff and residents will take time to fill out the survey or attend the public hearing,” he said.

To take the survey online, go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/SCPSsupt or visit the division’s website — www.shenandoah.k12.va.us.

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com