Tuesday, February 10, 2015

EDITORIAL >> Who can lead new district?

The Jacksonville School Board is looking for a permanent superintendent to run the fledgling district as it continues the process of breaking away from the Pulaski County Special School District.

The new schools chief will have to be dedicated to creating a long-term vision that will include building multiple new campuses and finding a way to reinvigorate the students and teachers to boost academic achievement.

The new school board recently paid $9,000 to a company in Omaha, Neb., to look for candidates for the job. They must find a superintendent who understands the community and who is willing to stay for several years. Whomever the board finally chooses, the new superintendent will be dealing with impatient residents who have seen their hometown suffer under the dysfunction of a failing district for years.

It will take time to rebuild the education system: Schools will have to be consolidated, buildings will have to be demolished and, perhaps most importantly, trust will have to be developed between the community and school administrators, which the city has not had since Bobby Lester was in charge.

Lester is the new district’s interim superintendent. He will step aside from that role by summer.

Jacksonville needs someone as capable as Cabot Superintendent Tony Thurman, our gold standard for school administrators.

We’ve said before that schools are key to thriving communities and, because of that, they are more important to a city’s future than even the mayors. Superintendents are rightfully paid more, and we’re sure the mayors would agree.

Choose a leader we can count on.