District has ample time to find leader

Published 11:12 am Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Brookhaven School District will face an all-too-familiar task in the coming months — finding a superintendent.

Ben Cox will retire in June to spend more time with his family, he said last week. Cox was named superintendent in January of 2014.

He has, thankfully, provided several months of notice so the school board will have plenty of time to find his replacement. He came in under much more stressful circumstances than his successor will hopefully find.

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Prior to Cox’s appointment, the district experienced a tumultuous time under Lisa Karmacharya’s tenure. When she left following heavy criticism, the school board named an interim superintendent. Stephanie Henderson served in that role for about six months prior to Cox’s arrival.

The superintendent position should be an attractive one. Brookhaven is a great place to live, the school district has a history of community involvement and support, and there’s room for improvement. It’s the last item that should be the most attractive to the right candidate.

The school district was rated a “D” in the most recent state rankings. The rankings based on the previous school year will be released early next year, but a jump to “B” or “A” seems unlikely.

That means a superintendent who takes over in June will be tasked with boosting those rankings. For the right individual, that’s a challenge that will prove both demanding and exciting. The district should look for a candidate who welcomes that challenge and thrives under the pressure that boosting ratings will bring.

Test scores and state ratings certainly should not be the only priority, but those are the metrics by which we measure school districts. Until that changes, improving both should be at the top of any improvement list.