17 apply for schools job

Published 8:19 pm Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Suffolk School Board has begun reviewing applications for the vacant superintendent position.

The Aug. 16 deadline passed with 17 applicants for the position, according to Bethanne Bradshaw, spokesperson for the school system.

“We received a great caliber of applicants,” School Board Chair Lorraine Skeeter said. “We’ve not reviewed them in depth, but we’re pleased with the quality of applicants.”

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The board must hire a new superintendent within 180 days of the July 1 vacancy. It hopes to name a new superintendent by Dec. 1 to start work in January.

The next step in the process is for the board members, who have copies of the applications in their possession, to review the applications before their Sept. 10 meeting, Skeeter said.

Also before the September meeting, members will prepare questions reflecting their priorities to ask those applicants selected for interviews.

“We’ll each submit what we like to see in a new superintendent and take that into account,” Skeeter said.

School Board members are expected to choose the applicants they wish to interview during their September meeting.

During Thursday’s meeting, the School Board also discussed changing the grade point scale used in Suffolk to be on par with other local school divisions.

Interim Superintendent Deran Whitney proposed a committee of teachers, parents and administrators to research the pros and cons of switching to a 10-point grading scale.

The scale, for example, would change the lowest A grade from the current 94 percent to a 90 percent.

The lowest passing grade would change from a 70 to a 64.

One parent attended the meeting to advocate the change and volunteered to be part of the committee, when asked.

“I’m tired of banging my head against the wall because my kids aren’t be rewarded for their hard work,” said Claudia Lee, mother of a high school and a middle school student. Lee said the average GPA at Virginia Tech this year is 3.9. She said Suffolk’s six-point scale makes it difficult for students to compete with students coming from systems that use a 10-point scale.

“Colleges aren’t looking at percentages,” Lee said. “They’re looking at their [grade point average.]”

Board member Dr. Michael Debranski worried the change could “open the door to inflating grades.”