By Debbie Hall
Identifying a firm to help find a new superintendent is the top order of business for members of the Patrick County School Board.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Bill Sroufe recently announced he had accepted the top position in the Colonial Heights School division. (See related story)
Brandon Simmons, chairman of the Patrick County School Board said the school board “will try to start working immediately, as quick as we can, to find the right person” to fill the top slot.
That will begin by asking the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) and other search firms for proposals before selecting one to help with the project.
“We are going to have to jump on this pretty fast and it’s going to be busy the next few months,” he added.
Although the board has not yet met to discuss specifics after learning of Sroufe’s resignation, Simmons said his personal goal is to hire a qualified candidate within three months, or at least by Aug. 1.
“We may have to hire an acting or interim superintendent until we find somebody. We have to have an acting super to operate. More than likely, we will have to hire an interim,” he said.
Sroufe’s departure is a loss to the county and the school division, Simmons said.
“I think it’s a loss. I think it’s a big loss and I’m not scared to tell anybody that. From what I’ve found out just the year and a half I’ve been on the board and from traveling around the state to other divisions and meetings, I think we’re losing one of the best superintendents in the state.
“I know every superintendent we’ve ever had in this county has been pushed out, and the one thing I really want to emphasize to everybody, and the one thing everybody needs to digest it right now and live with it, is that it’s going to be hard to find somebody to rehire” at Sroufe’s rate of pay in Patrick County, Simmons said.
“We will be paying more,” he said, adding there have been questions about “’why the school superintendent is the only person in the county making over $100,000 a year.’ People want to know why he is paid that,” Simmons said.
“Well guess what, that’s just what a superintendent makes, and people may as well accept right now that superintendents make over $100,000 per year, because I know there will be people who will say right out of the gate, ‘they hired a new superintendent and they’re paying that person more than $100,000 a year, and that’s what we will have to do,” Simmons said. “It is what it is.”
Additionally, “there’s been a lot of discussion about how the superintendent needs to live in the county. I don’t want anybody to be screaming and crying when we have to pay to move this person into the county,” Simmons said.
He added that he was not surprised to learn that Sroufe accepted a position elsewhere.
“This is what everybody wanted, so they’re going to get what they wanted,” Simmons said. “When you have a school system as good as ours is and never hear anything positive about it, why would you stay?”