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Finding A New CCSD Leader May Be As Challenging As The District Itself
11/19/2014 4:34:37 PM

Elizabeth Moffly

Eric Mack
Staff Reports

Charleston County School District’s Consolidated School Board soon will be seeking to hire a new county schools superintendent. The school district has been plagued in the past by dynamics that often put its superintendent in conflict. And despite an excellent rating from the state’s education department, the school district continues to struggle with a widening education gap and chronically low performing schools. What should the board look for in a new superintendent?

Former schools superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley resigned the position three weeks ago amid controversy, a condition common among CCSD superintendents. McGinley’s seven-year tenure made her the district’s longest serving superintendent. Former board member Craig Ascue, whose term expired just prior to McGinley’s resignation, said the district needs a superintendent who will be committed to spending at least 10 years with the district.

And the new superintendent must be a fighter, Ascue said. About half the district’s approximately 48,000 students are Black. A disproportionate number of those Black students attend at-risk schools in a district where most white students attend contrastingly successful schools. Ascue says the new superintendent must be willing to fight to provide quality education to all the district’s children while simultaneously working with a highly politicized school board and contentious community factions.

“The next superintendent must have a thick skin. But the superintendent’s job is to fix problems. We still have some failing schools so the superintendent also must know how to turn over stones to find out why that is in a district that is one of the state’s most wealthy. The new superintendent will have to be able to use every tool available and bring those resources to the table,” he said.

Former board member Elizabeth Moffly also left the board after McGinley’s resignation. She agrees the new superintendent must be a collaborator who also must have the business acumen to manage the county’s largest employer which also has its largest budget - over $500 million annually.

“We’re a large corporation, but we also need someone who understands the community,” Moffly said. The only product of the corporate entity that is Charleston County School District is educated students. Reading, writing and arithmetic are the basic raw materials needed to produce a quality product, she said.

That means efficient and effective management of teachers, administrators and facilities are paramount. In the past Charleston County truthfully has not been looking for a leader who will bring all the community’s resources together to produce quality students regardless or racial or economic backgrounds, Moffly said.

Rev. Eric Mack was elected to serve his first term on the board Nov. 4. He thinks the new superintendent, which the board hopes will be hired by next June, has to be a risk-taker with good managerial and communications skills. Those are skills necessary to facilitate the district’s academic and corporate needs, he said. The ability to think outside the box will be critical in leading a district with diverse challenges such as those facing CCSD.

“The new superintendent will have to be loaded with skills. We’re talking about moving into the 21st century and growing the district. We need someone who has a business mind, but who isn’t just a corporate person - someone who is concerned about the business aspects of the district and our low performing schools and students,” Mack said.

Should race be a factor in choosing a new superintendent? All the respondents gave an anticipated negative response to that question. One however added candidly, “We’ve had white males, a Black female and a white female. Some conservatives on the board have said we should look for a Black male.”

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Peter Smyth Submitted: 11/20/2014
As important as anything, a new superintendent needs a new core of deputies and associates, actually competent and functional. McGinley and her predecessors have lacked this. And no Broad Academy legacies.

Submitted By: Carol Tempel Submitted: 11/20/2014
The new superintendent needs a deep understanding of best practices in education and how to implement them in the school district. Being able to connect and collaborate with the staff, board, and community are essential. Yes, the new superintendent needs to understand the business side of the district, however, a superintendent without knowing education will pull us backwards.

Submitted By: Tom Submitted: 11/23/2014
I believe we need a new direction and now we have the opportunity to make a change. For some time, I have discussed with board members modifying the district structure to resemble, what I call, a "University Business Model" that replaces the traditional superintendent with someone with a business (CEO) background and create an "Academic Dean" that is solely focused on improving the education of our children.

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