Community members share what they’re looking for in new Norfolk superintendent


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The search is on for a new superintendent for Norfolk Public Schools.  

It’s been more than four months now since Dr. Melinda Boone resigned with one year left in her contract

Dr. Sharon Byrdsong has been acting superintendent since Boone’s departure.  

On Monday, the school board held the first of three public input sessions to find out what the community thinks they should be looking for. 

People had a lot of opinions on the type of qualities they say the superintendent needs in order to last and succeed in this district 

Students, staff, parents and the other community members gathered at Booker T Washington High School to once again give their two cents on the search. 

“We need somebody unbiased to come in and change this system around to make it work for the students,” said resident Garnzie West. 

Facilitators from McPherson and Jacobson, the recruitment firm hired to do the search, asked the crowd four questions. The first question: What are good things about the Norfolk community?    

“We have a great diversity in our communities,” one attendee said. 

The second question: What are good things going on in the school district? 

The facilitators say these questions help attract applicants.  

“As a parent and as an employee of Norfolk Public Schools, we have great teachers in this district,” one woman said. 

However, the next question, what are the issues that the new superintendent needs to know about, got a much different response.  

Some said the lack of accredited schools in the district leads to roadblocks in higher education.  

Many in the crowd also say the “politics” of Norfolk city council and what they call a divided school board are a big concern.  

“They’re at war. One half is over here, one half over there and will this new superintendent be able to come in here and bring these people back together?” said Lula Sears Rogers, a longtime resident and former student of Booker T. Washington  

The fourth question: what characteristics would you like to see in the district’s next leader? 

Many people said transparency and integrity. Students chimed in too.  

“We want to know who our superintendent is. We want to have a relationship with them,” said one student. 

During the process, the firm will vet applicants and look at their educational background.   

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