Published 7:35 pm Saturday, January 3, 2009
Not only is Beaufort County looking for someone to replace Jeff Moss as superintendent of the county’s public-school system, now there is an empty seat on the Beaufort County Board of Education.
Moss is leaving to become superintendent of the Lee County school system. As 2008 ended, John W. White Jr. resigned his position as the School District 3 member of the school board.
It’s probably a safe bet that Moss left, to some degree, because of, at least in some quarters, a growing dissatisfaction with his way of operating the school system. When most people believe they are not wanted in a specific place, they tend to go somewhere that does want them. School-system superintendents are no different in that regard.
White’s letter of resignation deserves careful reading. White’s letter, or at least parts of it, are disturbing.
It is disturbing that White would have such a perception. If there is a grain of truth in that perception, and there likely is some measure of truth in White’s perception, something must be done to correct such an unhealthy atmosphere. School-board members, school administrators and teachers must put the welfare and education of students above politics and personal agendas.
Granted, that may be difficult to do because school-board members, school administrators and teachers are human. Humans do not always do what is right.
And when someone of White’s caliber determines he or she can no longer serve in such an atmosphere, that is a signal something needs fixing. White spent 14 years on the school board, working with five superintendents during the time. Therein lies the problem. Beaufort County’s public schools need some stability. Going through five superintendents in 14 years does not provide such stability.
But if Beaufort County gets the reputation — rightly or wrongly — of putting politics and personal agendas ahead of the welfare and education of its children, look for another string of superintendents to come along in the next 10 to 15 years. No superintendent is going to please everyone in the county. That’s a given. Beaufort County needs a superintendent who puts students’ education first and is willing to do everything in his or her power to make that happen. The next superintendent should recognize the fact that it is the school board that sets policy, which is to be carried out by him or her. The next superintendent should have the experience and knowledge needed to provide recommendations as that policy is being crafted by the school board.
The process to replace White on the school board will begin soon. That process likely will require a special election since White was re-elected to the school board in November 2008, leaving almost a full term for his replacement. That means voters in School District 3 will decide who replaces White.
That person will have some big shoes to fill, not to mention sharing in the responsibility of educating Beaufort County’s children. That’s not an easy job, but one that must be done.
White’s replacement must understood what White understood: The welfare and education of the county’s children come before politics and personal agendas.
It’s a shame some people in the county do not have White’s understanding of the matter.