In the latest update on the search for a permanent successor to former Dare Schools Superintendent John Farrelly, the Dare County Board of Education is reviewing the 22 applicants for the position, although there is no word on whether the list has been winnowed down.
Following Farrelly’s sudden resignation, announced in May, the board quickly named former Manteo Elementary School Principal Steve Blackstock as interim superintendent. In seeking to hire a permanent superintendent, the board chose to conduct an in-house search as opposed to hiring an outside search firm.
To that end, it named a superintendent search committee made up of three school board members, three principals representing the elementary, middle and high school levels and three central office staff members.
The committee met several times over the summer to develop the advertisement for the position, which was posted on Aug. 1, as well as to craft potential interview questions for the Board of Education to use during the process. Dare County is among roughly 30 districts in North Carolina with superintendent vacancies.
In response to Voice questions about the progress of the search, Board of Education Member and Search Committee Chair Mary Ellon Ballance said she could not reveal more information at this point. She stated that “being transparent during this process is difficult because candidates may not want their current employer to know they are applying elsewhere. Once a candidate is chosen and all applicants have been notified, I am happy to discuss the process.”
In her responses to the Voice, Ballance said the full board of education would conduct the applicant interviews. But she added that she could not say with certainty whether the current board or the new board seated after the fall election would ultimately pick the new superintendent given that fact that four out of the seven members of the board have to agree on a candidate. Three incumbents on the current board are not running for re-election.
This summer, the search committee also developed a “Stakeholder Input Survey” for parents, students, staff and community members to have the opportunity to weigh in on what they are looking for in a superintendent. That survey, which was open for a period of two weeks in August, garnered less than 400 responses, which Balance characterized as “not as much participation as we would have preferred.”
Ballance said that two common issues that came up in the survey results were closing the COVID-19 achievement gap and school safety.