Saturday, November 12, 2016

EDITORIAL >> New district turns page

Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District Deputy Superintendent Jeremy Owoh told us once that he didn’t want to be moved into the big office when Superintendent Tony Wood retired. Wood said from the git-go he was a short timer and at last week’s school board meeting, he resigned effective the end of this school year.

We haven’t revisited that conversation with Owoh, but it seems to be a moot point for now, no matter how capable he is, or how much he would or wouldn’t want the job. He seems to have done a good job leading the educational component of the district and recognizes the long way the district needs to go at every grade.

According to the recent public annual report, our students are failing to perform at grade level in alarming numbers.

Advertising for Wood’s replacement began Tuesday morning—no one has applied yet—and the posting listed requirements and skills needed for the job.

It requires a minimum of five years experience as the superintendent of a school district, and Owoh has none. While we’ve seen principals apply for superintendent jobs at the Pulaski County Special School District, Wood and the board want a lot of experience from the next superintendent, with all that’s going on right now.

Guiding a new school district, with a new school board, two new schools coming out of the ground, questions of finance and construction, will be quite a stretch for the next superintendent, never mind an inexperienced one. The district is still trying to settle the desegregation lawsuit and get out from under oversight in U.S. District Court. Who knows what new problems may be generated by the General Assembly.

It was only through the wisdom and experience of Wood, and Bobby Lester in the interim before him, their expertise in Arkansas public school law and regulations, that the district met all requirements to begin operation this year—the first new district carved out of an existing school district in memory.

We hope that Owoh will stick around here long enough for a shot at the superintendency. Like Sara Lee, nobody doesn’t like him. He has handled every task with good humor and proficiency.

Here’s what else Wood and the board want of the next superintendent:

A Ph.D. (Owoh’s got his), district administrator pre-K—12 licensure codes.

The job description summary says, “The new job requires the ability to demonstrate administrative and technical expertise in several areas, knowledge of laws and regulations governing Arkansas public schools, language and human relations skill to deliver formal presentations to diverse audiences and other abilities.

The school board could hire his successor as early as Dec. 5.

At a special board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, applications will be reviewed and finalists will be selected.

Interviews will be conducted on Nov. 28. The new superintendent will go to work July 1, 2017.