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Letter to the Editor - Jan. 11

January 11, 2011

Extraordinary person needed to lead schools

To the editor:

Over the next several months, our community will make one of the most important decisions in years, selecting the new superintendent of Washington County Public Schools. We encourage our elected board members to use all means possible to attract the best and the brightest candidate available.

Education is the springboard for not only a child's success in life, but also the success of the entire community.  It plays a critical role in how we attract businesses to our area and how we prepare our work force to serve those businesses.

Our children deserve a star as their leader, and we should not limit ourselves or believe we cannot attract or afford the best candidate possible. As Franklin D. Roosevelt stated, "The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize." 

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As our elected school board members draft the job description and advertisement for this position, we encourage the inclusion of language that will encourage quality candidates to apply. Once a finalist is selected, the board can negotiate a fair compensation package.

You don't have to live long in Washington County to recognize it is a special place to live, work and raise a family. Our community offers tremendous opportunities to a new superintendent. While Washington County might not be the richest in terms of personal income, it is wealthy in the areas that matter most — high quality of life, a strong sense of community, a willingness to work together, beautiful rural landscapes supported by urban centers with all of the modern amenities, museums, national and state parks, a renowned symphony, recreational facilities, and much, much more.  

In addition, our other elected community leaders have partnered with our school system to achieve what's best for our children. Our community has seen major advancements in new school construction, including four new elementary schools and the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. Our business community has consistently promoted education at the highest levels and will continue to offer its support to the new superintendent.

As the hiring team evaluates candidates, phrases describing our future superintendent should include visionary; courageous; strong communicator and motivator; respected; diverse experience in an advanced school system; broad worldview; personable; and in the prime of his or her career with a passion for education. Our new superintendent must believe all children have the ability to learn, have high expectations for student achievement, and hold themselves, teachers, administrative staff and support personnel to the highest standards.

In closing, while we fully grasp the challenging times we are in, this is not the time to compromise. We cannot afford to tread water. We now have high-performing schools, declining dropout rates, diverse learning opportunities for students, excellent magnet programs including strong and expanding STEM education and partnerships with higher learning and career-training entities, giving our students a head start in their post high school life. Our school system is winning state and national recognition, and our community is embracing the importance of education as a vehicle for success. We need to do everything possible to attract an extraordinary leader with the vision, courage and skills needed to continue our upward progress.

 

Dr. Mitesh Kothari 

Jeanne F. Singer

co-chairs 

Greater Hagerstown Committee Education Forum

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