The search for a new superintendent for Dare County Schools is underway as the ad hoc committee charged with overseeing the process met for the first time on July 12. The committee, made up of school board members and district principals and administrators, laid out a timeline for the search and started the process of crafting a community survey aimed at seeking input to be used during the hiring process.
The Dare County Board of Education unanimously voted earlier this month to conduct an in-house search as opposed to hiring an outside firm to fill the position left by John Farrelly, who resigned effective June 30 as part of a settlement agreement with the school board that included a payment of just under $327,000 to him. Longtime Dare County educator Steve Blackstock has been appointed interim superintendent in the meantime.
In a Voice interview published on July 7, Blackstock declined to answer whether he would be interested in a permanent superintendent slot, but in his remarks, he described his job as easing the transition to a new superintendent.
Led by Board of Education Member Mary Ellon Ballance, the ad hoc committee is made up of Board Members Carl Woody and Susan Bothwell, First Flight High School Principal Chuck Lansing, Cape Hatteras Elementary School Principal Rachel Benton, Manteo Middle School Principal Tami Harper, DCS Director of Human Resources Oliver Holley, Director of Administrative Services and Career Technical Education Shannon Castillo and Director of Technology Services Holly King.
During the July 12 meeting, the group decided on a 45-day open application period once the position is advertised. Ballance said that she anticipated that the announcement for the position would be drafted and ready for consideration by the board of education by sometime next week when the board would meet virtually to vote on it.
“I’m just really grateful that you all are willing to serve on this committee because we want to be transparent, we want to be inclusive and want to make sure that our next search is what we need it to be for Dare County Schools,” Ballance said at the July 12 meeting. “We brought you guys together to help guide us and give us some insight into the things that you look for in somebody who’s going to help our students get to the next level.”
The committee went into closed session during the meeting to discuss details of the announcement and the qualifications members wanted to look for.
“I want people to feel free to speak about things that you have or have not liked about superintendents you have served under in the past, here or in other places,” Ballance said in explaining the purpose of the closed session. “I just want everybody to feel like they can voice their opinions and ideas freely.”
In discussing the timeline for hiring, Woody said he’d like to see the board wait to hire a new superintendent until the new school board is in place in December. But Ballance and Bothwell disagreed.
“I think the faster we get this done, the better off Dare County Schools will be,” Bothwell said.
“I would like to see that process start a little sooner as well,” Ballance said, noting that there are currently 30 superintendent openings in North Carolina. “I think it’s perfectly reasonable to think that we should have either a decision to hire, or a decision to wait by [early] to mid-November, depending on what kind of candidate selection we get. We may have something great right off the bat, we may not.”
During the meeting, the committee worked on a draft survey that will go out to community members and Dare County Schools staff asking for input on qualities and characteristics they would like to see in the new superintendent. The survey results, the committee members said, would be used during the interviewing phase of the search.
A draft survey is expected to be considered by the school board next week, along with the superintendent announcement. The committee agreed that the survey would go out at the same time as the announcement and responses would be accepted for a period of three weeks.