No early negotiations on Carroll school chief contract

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Carroll's schools superintendent had asked the school board to look at his contract early, but their refusal to do so could indicate a sign of support for his continued employment.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter


HILLSVILLE — Negotiating a school superintendent’s contract a year in advance is customary, and Greg Smith’s contract with Carroll County Public Schools ends in June 2013.
The issue arose at the board’s regular meeting in February, only the second month the new school board had taken office, according to Carroll School Board Chairman Brian Spencer.
At the time, Smith asked the board to consider renewing his contract and work on negotiating that contract in March for an additional four years.
School Board Member Reggie Gardner made a motion to that end at March’s meeting, but the motion did not get a second and failed.
“We are not saying, as a school board, by that inaction that we would not engage or renew Dr. Smith’s contract,” Spencer said. “We’re just saying it’s too early.”
Though it’s around 15 months in advance of the end of the contract, that’s apparently a customary time to begin negotiations, the chairman noted.
That would have given the board less than 60 days to evaluate Smith’s performance, and Spencer thought that a little premature.
“We have to do our due diligence,” Spencer said.
It seemed to Gardner that there are a number of school superintendent positions open around Virginia. Gardner believes that Smith asked for early negotiations because, if he doesn’t have the support of the school board, he could explore some of those other opportunities.
The board may have quietly voiced its support for Smith when Gardner’s motion died for lack of a second, the Sulphur Springs school board member said.
Gardner feels Smith has done a good job in representing the previous and present school boards.
He said the fact is that Carroll County isn’t the highest-paying school district in Virginia.
It’s possible that Carroll wouldn’t be able to attract a candidate with experience.
Continuity is good, Gardner said. Prior to Smith, Carroll was fortunate to have Oliver McBride as superintendent for 18 years.
Continuity promotes feelings of security among the staff, Gardner said. The school system staff doesn’t want to change gears every few years.
“My feeling is with the budget situation and... school construction project, it’s not a good time to be doing a superintendent search,” he said.
It’s typical for a superintendent to look at opportunities about a year ahead in spring, Smith said.
“As a school superintendent, you can’t really afford to not utilize and take advantage of one of those windows of employment,” the superintendent said.
Smith needs to consider the opportunities out there and what the future holds. His family has put down roots here and the school system is a progressive one that offers a variety of programs and a quality education for students, he said.
Smith hopes to continue working with Carroll County schools if given the opportunity.
“The journey for school improvement never ends,” Smith said. “I’m certainly willing to engage in that conversation as soon as the board feels like doing so.”