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Public must have key role

In some parts of the country, the office of superintendent of education is an elected position. Candidates wanting to hold the elected office must go through a rigorous campaign, debates, public presentations and of course election night.

But while Suffolk — and a majority of other systems throughout nation — chooses to have an elected school board make the selection, it does not mean the same public scrutiny of an election should not be applied.

The next Suffolk Public Schools superintendent will face a number of significant challenges the first day on the job and must have the experience, expertise and leadership qualities to face these challenges head on. This person will also face decisions she never expected when she was selected to such a post.

For the past 10 years in the superintendent’s chair, Dr. Milton Liverman faced obstacles, decisions and challenges both expected and unexpected. By all accounts, he tackled each one to the best of his abilities. In many cases, he made the right choices.

The school superintendent position is arguably the second-highest ranking public official in Suffolk, behind the mayor. Based on the overall potential impact the office holds, there are those who would argue the position is the most important.

Next week, the Suffolk School Board will convene for its next regular meeting and set a direction for the search to find the person to replace Dr. Liverman, who is set to retire on June 30.

But while the decision is ultimately that of the elected members of the School Board, the input and buy-in of the public is a must. The chance for parents, faculty and staff to hear from final candidates and review their credentials are a necessity before such a decision can ultimately be reached.

The Suffolk Public School System is one that is operated by some of the best minds our community has to offer, but it is the parents, teachers and students who truly make it successful.

We look forward to the upcoming process and challenge the School Board members to ensure the public plays a key role in the selection of our school system’s next leader.