Board to start hunt for new superintendent

June 15, 2011

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Henry County School Board will hold a special meeting at 9 a.m. Monday to discuss the next steps in filling the superintendent’s post.

County Schools Superintendent Anthony Jackson announced Tuesday that he will leave the division at the end of July to become the new superintendent of Nash-Rocky Mount Schools in North Carolina.

“I’m personally sad to see him leave,” said Kathy Rogers, board chairman.

Jackson has “done so much for county schools in the short amount of time he has been here,” she said. “Because of his accomplishments, I’m sure he’s been pursued” by other divisions.

According to a news release, the Nash-Rocky Mount School System has 17,000 students, 28 schools, 2,500 employees and an annual operating budget of $208 million. By comparison, the Henry County School Division had 7,128 students as of Sept. 30, 14 schools, 1,161 full- and part-time employees and an operating budget of $68.4 million, according to figures provided in March.

The larger school division “means more responsibility for him professionally,” Rogers said.

Although she has not been privy to Jackson’s contract with the North Carolina division, “I’m sure, financially, it’s a step up,” Rogers said.

Jackson’s pay in his new post was not available Tuesday, according to Sandy Drum, public information officer for the Nash-Rocky Mount division.

According to his contract with the Henry County School Division, Jackson is paid $130,000. The school board also contributed $10,000 annually to an annuity or deferred compensation plan on his behalf, according to his contract.

Jackson has worked in Henry County since July 1, 2009.

“Although his tenure was short,” the county school system “benefited greatly” from Jackson’s leadership, Rogers said in the release. “He has truly taken Henry County Schools to the next level, and he will be leaving the system positioned for continued success.”

During Jackson’s tenure, the county’s 14 schools have achieved full accreditation, 93 percent made AYP, and the school division made AYP. The division also was one of only eight school divisions in the state to receive the 2011 Virginia Board of Education Excellence Award, the release stated.

The system also “made significant investments in technology, including launching a nationally recognized iPad initiative,” the release stated. Jackson also “worked with the school board and staff to develop a plan to effectively use federal stimulus funds,” supported the expansion of Advanced Placement programs, implemented virtual courses and expanded alternative options for at-risk students, it added.

Jackson also led the division through the process of developing a strategic plan and “worked cooperatively with staff and the community to prioritize shrinking resources, ensuring that all expenditures were aligned” with priorities, according to the release.

“As a result, the Henry County Public School System is one of only a few systems in the state able to provide its employees with a salary increase for the 2011-2012 school year, despite losing $500,000 in funding from the locality,” the release stated.

Rogers declined to comment “on anything related to his replacement” until the board meets Monday.

The board then will begin deliberations and will make plans for finding a replacement, according to Joe DeVault, board vice chairman.

Jackson “will be a very tough act to follow,” DeVault said, “but we will move forward in hopes of continuing the progress, growth and goodwill he has built in our school system.”

The new post “obviously is a career move” for Jackson, DeVault said. “It’s a larger system with more pay, and I’m sure he will do an excellent job there as he has in Henry County. Our loss is their gain. I’m disappointed to see him leave, but I’m happy for him,” he said.

Iriswood District school board member Curtis Millner said Jackson’s departure is “unfortunate for the school system. I think we are going to have an extremely hard job finding someone to do the job as well as he has done the past two years.”

It took about four months to go through the process and hire Jackson, Millner added.

Rudy Law, the Blackberry District representative on the school board, said the board does not “know exactly where we are going” to hire Jackson’s successor. “We will get together and decide how to proceed. ... I am sorry to see him go.”

Ridgeway District member Charles Speakman said Jackson has “done a good job while he’s been here. He’s a gentleman (and) on the way up in his career, so he’s always looking for new opportunities.”

“From what I understand,” Jackson will earn “a whole lot more pay” in the new post, Speakman said. “I have heard his pay there would be about a $60,000 raise above what it is here. We’re limited in what we can pay in this area versus some of the other areas,” he added.

“I am sorry to see him go. I think he was doing a good job. He accomplished a lot while he was here,” Speakman said.

Some of Jackson’s other accomplishments include securing a $35,000 commitment from Service Solutions Inc. to launch the HCPS First Generation College Student Scholarship fund to provide three to five seniors with $1,000 scholarships annually for the next five years; spearheading Arts Alive!, a division-wide and community celebration of the fine arts; facilitating monthly and quarterly meetings with division advisory councils (student, parent, teacher and classified staff); and refining the school system’s volunteer process.

“I am very sad” that Jackson is leaving, said Reed Creek District member Betsy Mattox. “I believe his departure is not only a loss to the school system, but the community as a whole” because Jackson has “made so many efforts to involve the community” and be involved in it.

While in Henry County, Jackson “has faced some difficult situations, including budget issues and closing schools,” Mattox said, referring to Irisburg Elementary and the South Martinsville site, which closed at the end of the 2009-10 school year. Jackson handled those issues “very, very well and much better than we could have ever dreamed,” she added.

“I just wish him well,” Mattox said. “I hope he’ll be very happy. I know they will be very happy, and I hope we can find someone who will be a good fit for us, too.”

Terri Flanagan, Horsepasture District school board member, said, “We will miss him. He’s done a great job. Our loss is somebody else’s gain.” Jackson has been “a good asset to our school system,” she added.


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