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Editorial: Don’t wait for election to start superintendent search

At the risk of echoing a white hot national political conversation, the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education should continue on its path to find a new superintendent and take important, basic steps before new office holders are sworn in.

The steps should not take away the chance for new board members to weigh in and, perhaps, choose the next superintendent. But they must move to ensure local schools are not without a permanent leader for months into the new year.

So what are those steps?

First, the board did the right thing by compiling a survey to get the public’s input on the next superintendent. While they must be educators at heart, superintendents are not simply teachers or administrators. They are leaders of large educational institutions and one of the most critical parts of any community. As such, the public must have a say in hiring a superintendent in a larger way than electing a school board member.

However, the school board kept its survey short, just four questions, and it should look for ways to solicit more open-ended comments.

If the school board believes there’s no internal candidate suited to fill the superintendent position, it should name an interim leader to ensure a search for an outside candidate can be thorough.

Whether or not the board believes its next superintendent is someone who already works for the district, there’s no doubt the educators who work for Rowan-Salisbury Schools have the experience, energy and vision to keep the district moving in the right direction. A permanent leader, though, will set a longer-term tone for the district and see renewal through to completion. Most likely, the new superintendent will be tasked with bringing all students back to full-time, in-person classes in his or her first full school year.

Because the crossroads of coronavirus and renewal is a precarious position for student learning, the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education cannot risk making things more difficult by going slow on some of the basic work to begin the search process.

By the time any new officeholders are sworn into their school board seats, the search process should be underway.

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