For the second time in almost two decades, Allendale County schools are under the control of the State Department of Education. Superintendent Molly Spearman said, when students return to school August 17, they will see the same teachers that were there previously, but will also encounter new faces working with familiar staff. Superintendent Molly Spearman explains how these individuals and the department will work with students, teachers and the community to improve the effectiveness of the schools.
Dr. Walt Tobin has been assigned superintendent of the district.
“He joins three outstanding veteran educators who are serving as coaches,” Spearman said. Those educators were working in the school previously, doing reviews and evaluations, she added.
The schools will also receive a district-level staff person, who Spearman calls a “turn-around administrator who understands best practices instruction.”
The district-level team is busy working Spearman said. The group has already had strategic planning meetings and established a team for the year, “This is Our Time.”
This is the second time the school district has been under the direction of the state. In 1999, then Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum took over the district. According to a report in The State Newspaper in Columbia, Tenenbaum referred to the school board as “Belligerent.” Almost 20 years later, Spearman says problems with the school board are still an issue.
“Often times the school is the only employer, or major employer in the community. So sometimes school board members can be filled with lots of requests for jobs and it gets them out of their responsibility. Their responsibility is to hire the superintendent and then hold that superintendent accountable for hiring all the other right people.”
Building that better governance culture, Spearman said, will take a while a may be very difficult.
Although the school board has lost its authority (voting on a budget; hiring and evaluating the superintendent; and voting on teacher contracts- among other things) during the takeover, the board can still meet.
"They still hold their titles, but voting on the normal responsibilities; those kinds of things are taken away," Spearman said. At the time of this interview, Spearman said it was still undecided if the board members would keep their pay or what their stipend would be. Before the takeover the board received $600 a month, making them the fifth-highest paid district in the state.
WATCH: Spearman Gives 2017 Welcome Back to School Video Message