Kevin L. Hill: Collaboration is key to Wake schools’ future

October 8, 2012 

Collaboration is key to Wake schools’ future

I thank former Superintendent Tony Tata for his dedication to children in Wake County. He worked tirelessly on their behalf.

In his Oct. 5 Point of View article, Tata shared from the AdvancEd final report. When addressing his work on establishing a unified governance team, he failed to include an important finding on their part: “There is considerable work to be done with [an] unsettled community and with improving board relations.”

A successful career in the military does not guarantee that someone can navigate the paradigm shift between leading in the military and leading a major urban school system. The former superintendent was unable to build a truly unified and nonpartisan governance team in our district. It became increasingly clear to many in leadership positions, from the building level, across central services and reaching to the Board of Education, that his leadership style prevented a true widespread exchange of ideas and was far from the collaborative approach needed to truly examine ideas and proposals.

When he arrived, he inherited a three-year trend (2007-2010) of increasing proficiency gains across the board by our economically disadvantaged students. Our teachers, students, principals, staff and parents worked hard, as they continue to do so daily, and their hard work has evolved into five straight years of gains. We will continue to advocate for academic improvement for all students, regardless of who is superintendent or who serves on the Board of Education, because of the dedication and hard work of our teachers and staff. This will be made easier when we return to a school system culture of collaboration that encourages true staff input to developing programs and a more effective use of our resources.

Where do we go from here? Both the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education must commit to removing partisanship and political gamesmanship when it comes to making decisions for our children. We must commit to partner for the betterment of Wake County and the children in Wake County. Both boards should begin meeting to solidify this commitment and partnership for our County.

Next, we must organize a collaborative superintendent search. Our excellent schools require a superintendent who can inspire staff from within and has the skill set and experience to lead a complex and growing school system. We need a superintendent who believes in genuine collaboration and has the ability to bridge the divides across the county.

Going forward, we must renew our commitments to the community by enacting a smart and financially sound assignment plan taking continued growth into account. This plan should focus on address-linked base assignments, expanded choice and “stay where you start” stability. Growth will continue to place pressure on our school system, so we must commit to use our building and transportation resources wisely throughout the entire school system.

Continuous growth has certainly strained our resources and facilities, but that growth also signals a core belief in the fundamental strength of our schools. That is a shared belief, and one that I pledge to always work to maintain for the benefit of all members of our community.

Kevin L. Hill

Chairman, Wake County Board of Education

Raleigh

The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the Point of View article.

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