Forum held for Beaufort County Schools superintendent finalists

Forum held for Beaufort County Schools superintendent finalists

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Beaufort County Board of Education selected two finalists in its search for the district’s next superintendent.

The two finalists are Terry Dade, a regional assistant superintendent in the 187,000-student Fairfax County Public Schools, and Frank Rodriguez, a regional superintendent in the 193,000-student School District of Palm Beach County.

Saturday a public forum was held for the community to meet the finalists. They were given an identical set of questions that were submitted by people in the community.

One of the big questions that brought a lot of discussion was what the finalists would do in the first 90 days in the position of superintendent. Both finalist had a similar plan. Rodriguez said he would organize a listening and learning tour across the community to hear what is working in the school system and what isn’t.

“It will give me an opportunity to hear from you, our constituents, our students, our teachers, our staff, our non-instructional staff, members of our community," said Frank Rodriguez.

Dade has a similar plan. He said he wants to be on the ground listening and building up a relationship with the school board.

“Meeting as many folks as I can, developing a close working relationship with our board of education, having them pout their eyes on the entry plan to make sure I have their support about the path forward and then being authentic to the listening and learning," said Terry Dade.

Dade said seeing what isn’t working in the community will help the next superintendent close the achievement gap.

“Making sure we are closing the achievement gap here in Beaufort County to make sure we truly do believe and show with our data that all students can be successful here in Beaufort regardless of zip code," said Dade.

“Closing achievement gaps is certainly important. Working closely to build those relationship initially with the community and with the teachers. Making sure I hear from teachers. They are in the front lines. They are in the classrooms with our students and I want to hear from them about what their needs are and what we can do better as a system to help support them and their work," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said leadership will help close the achievement gap, but we have to support staff that want to grow into leaders. Dade said it starts with the teachers.

“If you look at your schools here in Beaufort County, some of our schools that have the most poverty also have some of the most inexperienced teachers. So, that’s an issue," said Dade.

Elizabeth Hargrove, a teacher for the district, said new leadership is exciting and she hopes the energy the two finalist brought today will grow throughout the school system.

“It’s a pivotal moment for our students where we need to get leadership into Beaufort County that will be supportive, that is willing to hear teachers, willing to hear constitutes, willing to hear stakeholders so that we are all on the same page.”

Being on the same page also comes with trust, which both candidates say needs to be restored in the district.

“With speaking with members in the community during my visit was that longing for that trust that the community has," said Rodriguez. "They love their schools. They take great pride in their schools and take great pride in their children and their children’s schools, but they want but they want that trust.”

“Goals for the district- number one, reestablish trust and mutual respect. That’s number one We have to work together as a family to achieve the outcomes we want for our students," said Dade.

The board hopes to announce its selection of the new superintendent on April 16 and have them begin work by July 1.

Copyright 2019 WTOC. All rights reserved.