Superintendent Jeff Moss has chosen a new director of innovation for the Beaufort County School District — a controversial position since last summer when Moss changed the district’s nepotism policy and approved the hiring of his wife to the job.
Bonnie Almond, the district’s current director of secondary education who formerly worked with Jeff Moss in a North Carolina school district, will become the new director if the school board approves the hiring. Almond will maintain her current salary of $95,445 and be charged with finding creative ways to improve student achievement, such as potentially creating a district-wide Wi-Fi network for students.
Darlene Moss, Jeff Moss’ wife, held the job for just one week last year. She resigned in September from the $90,000 post following public outcry over the nepotism rule change and her hiring.
The school board voted to fill the vacancy in November after Jeff Moss successfully argued a director of innovation was still necessary to fulfill the district’s goals.
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Almond has previously worked as an administrator, assistant principal, principal and teacher during more than 30 years in North Carolina and South Carolina public schools, according to her resume.
Before coming to the Beaufort County School District in 2013, Almond worked as a principal and assistant principal from 2003 to 2013 in the Lee County School District in North Carolina while Moss was superintendent there. Moss did not hire Almond there, according to a district spokesperson. He joined the district after her in 2009.
Details of the process by which Moss chose Almond for the director of innovation job were not available Friday evening. There was no committee of district officials who reviewed applications as was the case when the job was first created and Darlene Moss was hired, according to Jim Foster, district spokesman.
Rather, Jeff Moss made the decision on his own. That was allowed under district policy because it was a lateral move, Foster said.
The number of applicants for the job was also not immediately available Friday.
“Educators who’ve worked with Bonnie Almond know what a strong and capable professional she is, and I’ll be excited to see what she accomplishes in her new position,” Moss said in a district news release.
Almond was one of Moss’ most vocal supporters when members of the public criticized the hiring of Darlene Moss.
In a September school board meeting, she made a public comment calling Moss a “transformational leader.”
“Our district has been transformed in a short amount of time,” Almond said. “He’s articulated a vision and held us accountable for meeting our goals.”
Some on the Beaufort County School Board opposed Jeff Moss’ recommendation to fill the director of innovation job, arguing the salary would be better spent on teachers rather than an administrator.
“We’re going to be presented with cuts we’ll have to make in this district soon,” said board member JoAnn Orischak, who voted against filling the post. “At those moments I’m going to think back to this post and all the overlap we have in the district’s administration.”
Other school board members, including board chairwoman Mary Cordray, have argued that it is not the board’s place to criticize the district’s administrative structure, calling it “micromanaging.”
Geri Henderson, the district’s lead counselor for two years, will replace Almond as director of secondary education and will be responsible for improving student achievement in middle and high schools.
During a 20-year career in the Marine Corps, Henderson served as a drill instructor and marksmanship instructor before transitioning into positions focusing on counseling at Right Choice School and working with counselors district-wide. The district will hire a full-time counselor at Right Choice School and redistribute the district-wide responsibilities among current staff.
Duties of the director of innovation
- Recommends innovative improvements to the academic program that will positively impact student achievement.
- Supports schools in developing and implementing innovative approaches and school improvement.
- Supports school leaders to meet instructional goals and objectives.
- Assists in the design and implementation of district initiatives as they relate to academic improvement.
- Assists in monitoring and evaluation of all academic programs.
- Develops innovative community resources for increased student achievement.
- Assists schools in engaging community partners and parents.
- Prepares reports as required by the Chief Instructional Services Officer.
- Supervises personnel and instructional staff.
Source: Beaufort County School District