School Board to seek public input on qualities of next superintendent

FRONT ROYAL — The Warren County School Board will hold a special meeting next month for public input on what qualities should be considered during the search for a replacement for Superintendent Pam McInnis, who will retire next spring.

The meeting will be held at the Warren County Government Complex, 220 N. Commerce Ave., at 7 p.m. Dec. 4.

Real Synergy LLC, a corporate consultant firm, will gather opinions from Front Royal Town Manager Steve Burke, Front Royal Mayor Tim Darr, Jennifer McDonald of the Warren County Economic Development Authority, and representatives of students, teachers and parents.

Joanne Cherefko, the School Board member representing the South River district, said gathering opinions from prominent members of the community and the public at large is important for the selection process.

“Mrs. McInnis has done a great job as superintendent and anybody replacing her has some big shoes to fill,” Cherefko said. “We want input from community stakeholders because a superintendent is a very important position and anyone serving has to be right for the community.”

In other business at Thursday night’s School Board meeting, Melody Sheppard, assistant superintendent for administration, presented two proposals to the board for the 2015-2016 school year. The first option would have school start on Aug.17 and end June 2, while the other would have school start Aug.25 and end June 9.

Sheppard said the earlier start time would enable students to take the Standards of Learning test before winter break, as opposed to this school year when they will take it after the break. Sheppard also noted high school students would be able to complete their final exams before the break as well.

“This schedule will get us in sync with our neighboring districts,” Sheppard said. “From what we have gathered, students and teachers who are on this schedule in other districts like it because they can get out earlier and they don’t have a test looming over their heads during winter break.”

James Wells, the School Board member representing the Happy Creek district, said he would back the first schedule if it can be replicated in years to follow.

“I think this is a good schedule, but if we’re going to change the start and end times, we need to make sure we’re looking beyond just next year,” Wells said.

The board will discuss the calendar at its next meeting.

The board also approved a pay rate of $325 a day for a substitute principal who will be taking over a local school while the principal is out on a six- to eight-week medical leave. McInnis said the reason for having a substitute principal was because the school did not have a vice principal.

“Normally, we would have the vice principal take over duties in these types of scenarios,” McInnis said. “However, the substitute principal we are bringing in is experienced and is actually a retired principal.”

Also Thursday, Douglas Rosen, representing the Shenandoah district, was appointed by the board to the building committee to oversee the construction of a new middle school. Catherine Bower, chair and Fork district representative, said Rosen is a good fit for the appointment due to his experience in construction. Rosen said he would do his best.

“I’ll try to keep it on time and under budget,” Rosen said. “I’m honored to do this and I will serve to the best of my abilities.”

The next Warren County School Board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 25.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or

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