Searching for a superintendent

RSD waves goodbye to Superintendent Terry Adams in search for a more permanent replacement


Fifteen community members listen intently to Dr. Dennis Fisher, School Exec Connect Associate, as he asks his fourth question about the ideal skill set for a future superintendent, Jan. 13. The stakeholders took the initiative and contributed to the superintendent search by attending the open forum at the Administrative Annex.

All hail Superintendent Terry Adams for declaring six snow days in a row at the beginning of the semester. Cheers of teenagers echoed through the empty, snow-packed streets as students celebrated each snow day. RSD had so many days away from school that students were ready to return to school after Winter Break.

At the prospect of inclement weather, district administrators contact community members to drive through the district to check road conditions, but closing school is ultimately the decision of Superintendent Adams, according to RSD’s site.

However, students’ snow days for future school years will lie in the hands of a new superintendent.

Superintendent Adams was appointed to the interim position by the Board of Education after Dr. Bruce Borchers, superintendent, accepted a position in Tennessee last school year. The temporary position held by Dr. Adams allowed the BOE to create a plan to search for and appoint a permanent superintendent

Students really only pay attention to the actions of the superintendent when a snow day is possible, but the position holds much more authority.

“The superintendent is the voice and the face of Rockwood in the community,” Mrs. Deborah Asher, head principal, said. “S/he is vitally important to pull everything together especially with a district of this size.”

The district administrator is considered the Chief Executive Officer of RSD, and s/he is in charge of making some of the hardest decisions that roll down into the classrooms of the district.

Mrs. Asher shot off a laundry list of responsibilities of the superintendent: communication with the entire community, budget, resources, problems with bond issues, facilities,  curriculum, what they see as important in education in terms of 21st century skills; and list goes on.

The overall impact of the superintendent lies in his/her vision for the district, according to Mr. Justin Morris, Psychology teacher. This vision includes the best practices for educating students, the fundamental restructuring of Mathematics and Language Arts to align with the Common Core, policies such as standards-based grading, etc.

Students don’t usually have the opportunity to speak directly with the Superintendent, but shouldn’t students and parents pay attention to the one person who has control over almost every aspect of  an RSD education?

The superintendent is more involved with the administrators on a regular basis. S/he has a big say in the hiring of the administrators, who directly work with students, according to Mr. Matt Strickland, Science Department chair.

So, to aid in the search for the new Superintendent, the new face of RSD, the BOE hired School Exec Connect. The company is a private consulting firm who will use district resources such as funds, district personnel and RSD community members to conduct a nation-wide search. School Exec Connect is looking for the new C.E.O. of the district.

School Exec Connect has conducted focus groups, open forums, and an online survey to gather commentary from stakeholders. The company aimed to create a New Superintendent Profile which they presented to the BOE, Jan. 23.

The next step is to present the candidates to the BOE in an executive session, Feb. 23, before BOE interviews begin, Mar. 1. Follow up with the process with the Superintendent Search Process Timeline, or even attend a Board meeting to see what’s going on at the district-level.

RSD is a district of 22,000 students, but at the open forum only 15 community members attended, Jan. 13. This lack of participation speaks to either the shortage of knowledge on RSD happenings or even worse a deep-rooted apathy about RSD schools.

The superintendent is in charge of much more than snow days, so it’s important to stay informed, especially when students’ educations are at stake. Community input is vital when searching for the new superintendent or rather the next controller of future snow days.