Superintendent search plan approved

Published 9:28 pm Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Suffolk School Board last week unanimously approved a search plan for a new superintendent to replace Dr. Deran Whitney, who recently announced he would retire Sept. 1.

The board chose the Virginia School Boards Association to execute the search for a new superintendent to take over for Whitney. Chairwoman Phyllis Byrum said the VSBA has more than 40 years of experience in searching for superintendents.

VSBA notes that its searches have been responsible for placing 65 of Virginia’s current 133 school division superintendents.

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The School Board has scheduled a special meeting for 5 p.m. June 10 at the College and Career Academy at Pruden to discuss the search with VSBA.

From there, VSBA will provide the board with guidelines to be used in coming up with a profile of a new superintendent, and then will advertise the position on various education-related job boards, such as Education Week, the VSBA website, the National School Boards Association and the websites of the 35 other state school board associations that are part of the National Affiliation of Superintendent Searchers.

It will then screen candidates and provide the board with candidates best meeting the board’s criteria, and then prepare the board for candidate interviews. It will not participate in interviews, the organization states, but it will advise the board on procedures during the interview and screening process.

The board also approved Dr. LaToya Harrison, the assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, as the superintendent’s designee while Whitney is on leave.

This year’s school calendar was also modified to make June 11 a half-day due to exams and testing on that day to give teachers sufficient time for grading and record-keeping.

The Virginia Department of Education requires schools to provide a total of 180 days and 990 hours of instruction. After the calendar change, Suffolk elementary school students will have more than 1,046 hours of instruction for 180 days, and middle and high school students will have more than 1,073 hours of instruction for 180 days.