Work continues in absence of superintendent

By: By Mike Gellatly - [email protected]

LUMBERTON — While students are on vacation, administrators for the Public Schools of Robeson County are already preparing for the next school year, a summer task that includes assigning principals and filling dozens of teacher vacancies.

While the Board of Education searches for a new superintendent, the central office, including the interim and assistant superintendents, is in the process of evaluating principals, reassigning them and finding them for schools that don’t have a principal. The announcement is likely to come at the school board’s July 11 meeting.

The system also has about 80 teacher positions open as of the ringing of the last bell of the 2016-17 academic year.

“Typically, the Public Schools of Robeson County has changes in administrators during the summer months or throughout the year when there are vacancies,” said Shanita Wooten, interim superintendent. “The cabinet is in the process of conducting end-of-year principal evaluations, assessing school-level data, and determining the strengths of all administrators to ensure we make the best decisions for our school communities.”

This is being done as the search continues for the next schools superintendent, a quest that could end on Saturday. The school board had scheduled a meeting for Tuesday of last week during which a vote on the superintendent’s job was expected, but it was delayed by board members who asked for more time to make a decision.

Wooten said she will oversee staffing decisions while she holds the job she took over after the school board voted 6-5 on Jan. 10 to buy out Tommy Lowry’s contract.

“We are definitely pleased with how our students performed this year and this can only improve with the strategic placement of our administrators,” Wooten said. “The superintendent makes changes in current building-level administrators with the goal of having them in place in enough time for adequate summer planning to take place. More than likely, new principals and assistant principals will be recommended by the superintendent, board-approved and named before the start of school.”

The Public Schools of Robeson County also is hopeful it can attract enough teachers to put one in every classroom — and appears to have more money to boost that effort.

A proposed state budget boosts teacher pay 3.3 percent for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and 9.6 percent over two years. Also, the Robeson County Board of Commissioners has provided $930,000 to boost local teacher supplements from 5 to 6 percent. Between the two initiatives, a local teacher making $40,000 this past school year would see a pay hike of almost $1,700 a year.

The state budget also calls for a raise in pay for principals and assistant principals.

School board Chairman Loistine DeFreece on Thursday set a meeting for 9 a.m. Saturday to decide on a superintendent. It’s location was not available to The Robesonian, but the board has been meeting some at COMtech, Lumberton City Hall and at other buildings owned by the system not damaged by Hurricane Matthew.

By Mike Gellatly

[email protected]

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly