Our schools still don't have a permanent superintendent. Later this month, though, the school board will have two new members. Like the rest of us, new District 3 Representative A. J. Senior and new District 7 Representative Shannon Heflin have not been privy to the executive session discussions the board held in 2012. Like the rest of us, Representatives Heflin and Senior only know what has been made public about the superintendent search process.
Once sworn in at this month's official board meeting, they will have to get up to speed quickly if the board plans to have a new superintendent selected by the end of this school year.
Because they both ran on platforms of bringing new energy and ideas to the board, it is doubtful that Ms. Heflin and Ms. Senior will simply sign on to what other board members decided prior to their arrival. Each will certainly want to conduct her own due diligence into the process and each deserves that right having been duly elected.
However, the need to name a new leader for our schools is urgent. The common call from the business community, families and students is for a vision to deliver educational excellence and outsized outcomes in every building in the district. That vision needs a visible champion. Its execution requires a leader.
The last comment Board Chair Cathy Williams offered on the superintendent search was that "the process is ongoing". Only the 7 returning and 2 defeated board members know the facts that underlie that statement. Perhaps they agreed that Ms. Heflin and Ms. Senior should have a say in the selection, so the delay is procedural. Maybe the delay was intended to make a transition easier for the leading candidate. Or, perhaps there is serious disagreement between the members of the board not only about who to select, but what type of skills and talents are most critical to transform our schools at this time.
Regardless of the reason, the selection process needs to move toward a conclusion sooner rather than later. Right now, our schools are engaged with introducing Common Core State Standards and implementing Race to the Top initiatives passed down from the Georgia Department of Education among other things. There are certainly competent deputy superintendents and department heads overseeing these processes, but our schools deserve to have a superintendent in place to lead the charge toward educational excellence. Allowing the position to continue to remain open much longer will be a disservice to all involved.
Karl Douglass, Columbus native and resident, is a frequent commenter on local, state and federal politics. Follow him on Twitter@KarlDouglass or facebook.com/karldouglass.