New superintendent could be announced Thursday

Published 6:47 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2019

UPDATED 10:15 p.m. Tuesday: The released agenda does not appear to have any mention of the introduction of the superintendent. It is unclear whether the new superintendent will be announced, or introduced, in Thursday’s meeting.

Earlier: Suffolk Public Schools will name a new superintendent Thursday, a School Board member said Tuesday.

Board member Sherri Story posted that the search was complete on her Facebook page, “Sherri Story, A Suffolk SB Member; 2019-2022,” and invited the public to attend Thursday’s board meeting at City Hall to meet the new superintendent and that person’s family.

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In a phone interview Tuesday, Story confirmed that a new superintendent would be announced at Thursday’s board meeting. No meeting agenda was publicly available as of 3 p.m. Tuesday.

“I have great respect for our choice,” said Story, who stressed that she was speaking for herself and not that of other board members or the board itself. “So I’m very hopeful that the community will as well.”

School division spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw said Tuesday the agenda for the meeting was in the process of being finalized. She noted that the work session, set to begin at 5 p.m., would include discussion on the strategic planning session reports that did not get covered during the board’s vision planning meeting in August. The regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m.

On Sunday, Story wrote on her Facebook page, “I look forward to a new chapter being written for Suffolk Public Schools with a new Superintendent! This will be a very exciting time for all of SPS and for the city of Suffolk.”

Story praised the Virginia School Boards Association for its help during the search process and said the new superintendent would be a good fit for the school division.

“Personally, I am very excited,” Story said. “The search went very well. The board worked well together throughout the search process.”

Board member David Mitnick declined to comment on the search or whether there will be an announcement Thursday, referring questions to either board Chairwoman Phyllis Byrum or Vice Chairwoman Dr. Judith Brooks-Buck. Calls to other school board members Tuesday afternoon were not immediately returned.

Thirty-six people applied for the superintendent position.

Dr. LaToya Harrison had been serving superintendent-designee and was appointed as interim superintendent Aug. 8 after Dr. Deran Whitney announced his retirement earlier this year.

Harrison’s salary as assistant superintendent for teaching and learning is $123,471. Her interim superintendent contract, which went into effect Sept. 1 and is to continue until a new superintendent is appointed, calls for her to “receive an additional sum representing 25 percent of her base salary or $29,554, prorated monthly in the amount of $2,462.83 per month for each month she serves as interim school superintendent.”

Once a new superintendent is appointed, Harrison, per the terms of her interim superintendent contract, will be allowed to return to her previous position as assistant superintendent for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year and continuing through the 2020-2021 school year at her current assistant superintendent salary.