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Final search forum held

On Monday, community members, students, school board members and teachers gathered at Prince Edward County Middle School for the final public forum in the search for Prince Edward’s new superintendent of schools.

BWP and Associates representatives Wayne Harris and Dr. Kevin Castner facilitated the forum to receive community input regarding the search.

As of Monday, Harris said over 170 people have responded to the online survey and Castner said there have been 37 meetings engaging over 145 people.

An estimated 30 people attended Monday night’s forum.

“As far as having the opportunity for people to have access, I think we’ve accomplished much of that,” Castner said.

The vacancy for the position was created when Dr. David Smith said in December that he wouldn’t seek to renew his contract, which expires in June.

Harris said there have been calls about the open position and individuals are starting to apply. “We’re confident that we will find a high-quality pool of people,” he said.

Throughout the forum, the discussion was conducted by Harris. He posed questions to the community members about the strength and challenges of Prince Edward’s schools, and specific qualities that the next leader should possess.

Harris said the county’s school board is particularly interested in what the community wants in the next superintendent of Prince Edward Schools.

Those in attendance pointed out desirable traits for the next superintendent, including being able to think outside of the box, visibility at school events, supporting staff and students, embracing diversity, involving more social media within the curriculum and being conscious of the taxpayers’ money.

Noted strengths of the schools involved the amount of technology available and the talent found among the students. Some felt that discipline was an issue in the schools, noting that often students were left to navigate their own devices.

Additionally, there was interest in non-traditional candidates being considered for the position from various backgrounds that could include the military or law. “There are examples of non-traditional leaders leading successful school districts,” Harris said.

“We’ve spent all day today listening to what you want us to know about your next superintendent,” he said. A community engagement report will be presented on Wednesday.

“The application process is online,” Harris said. “The numbers are starting to add up.”

Harris and Castner perform superintendent searches together through BWP. “We have completed 12 and have two in the works,” Harris said.

Harris and Castner have previously performed superintendent searches in Spotsylvania, Hopewell, Alexandria, Winchester, Staunton, Goochland, Pittsylvania and Chesterfield. They are currently in the in the process of seeking superintendents for Petersburg in addition to Prince Edward’s.

“We’re pleased that the school board has asked us to help them,” Harris said.

Buffalo District Representative and Board Chairman Russell Dove said even though Monday night was the last public forum with the search firm, the school board would continue to welcome feedback from the community.

“If you still want to talk to us, call us up (and) come to the meetings,” Dove said. “We really want to hear from you.”