Surry retains state school boards association for superintendent search

Published 6:26 pm Monday, June 3, 2024

Surry County’s School Board voted unanimously on May 29 to retain the Virginia School Boards Association to assist with hiring the next superintendent.

Superintendent Serbrenia Sims, who’s led the division since 2020, announced on May 14 she would retire at the end of the school year.

The VSBA, of which Surry is a member, maintains a list of eligible superintendent candidates who have the education and experience required by state law. School boards also have the option of appointing a superintendent from outside the education field, such as a former chief executive officer or senior military officer, if they make such a request to the Virginia Department of Education.

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“Being a statewide association of school boards, the VSBA understands best practices in school division leadership, and uses proven strategies to develop productive board/superintendent relations,” states the VSBA’s website. “As your association, the VSBA has a vested interest in assisting your division with finding the best possible superintendent for your community. The VSBA offers contract legal review, public relations support, and board governance training at no additional charge to divisions using VSBA’s superintendent search services.”

According to its website, the VSBA is part of the National Affiliation of Superintendent Searchers, or NASS, with over 110 consultants in 40 states. Gina Patterson, the VSBA’s executive director, has conducted superintendent searches since 1998 and is a former chairwoman of NASS.

The VSBA “does not select the superintendent for the division,” its website states, assuring “all decisions are made by the school board, and all actions taken by VSBA are at the direction of the board.”

Neighboring Isle of Wight County Schools also retained the VSBA when conducting its search for former IWCS Superintendent Jim Thornton’s successor. The process ended with the School Board hiring Superintendent Theo Cramer in 2022.

Surry’s School Board, also on May 29, narrowed a VSBA-provided list of recently retired superintendents to five candidates for appointment as Surry’s acting superintendent.

“They have already done most of the vetting for us,” said Vice Chairwoman Roxanne Marr-Shears.

The board plans to conduct interviews and name an acting superintendent by June 30. Whomever is appointed would begin work July 1.

Per state law, the board has 180 days starting July 1 to name Sims’ permanent successor.