Parents, residents say they want a Beaufort County superintendent up to the challenge

The next superintendent of Beaufort County schools will face a variety of challenges, according to parents, community members and Board of Education candidates who attended a Thursday night forum.

Whoever is hired must work to boost test scores, deal with a tight budget and tackle school safety and disruption issues such as bullying, the six attendees at the Beaufort High School meeting told a consultant with Ray and Associates, the firm hired to conduct the district's superintendent search.

The new superintendent should also have several specific qualities, attendees said.

Parent Ron Nelson wants to see someone who can encourage academically challenged children -- including special needs students or children who face struggles at home. But the new schools' chief needs a plan to challenge academically gifted students, too, he said.

As they did at Wednesday's forum at Hilton Head Island High School, several attendees also said they'd like someone who can bridge the diverse cultures present in Beaufort County, including the Gullah culture.

Brian Herrmann, chairman of the Port Royal Elementary School Improvement Council and a candidate for school board, said he wants a superintendent who can engage residents who don't have ownership in the schools, either because they don't pay taxes toward operating costs or because they don't have children.

Herrmann also said he wants a superintendent who will invest in school improvement councils and encourage principals to utilize them.

"You've got to use this tool," he said.

Al Johnson, the regional director of Ray and Associates, said findings from the firm's eight community meetings, focus group meetings and an online survey will be presented to the school board at its Tuesday meeting.

The results will be used to draft a profile for the next superintendent, which will be the basis for search.

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  3. Superintendent timeline set; bus cameras still a possibility for Beaufort County; Sept. 25, 2012
  4. Beaufort County School Board selects superintendent search firm; Sept. 4, 2012
  5. Beaufort County School District names interim superintendent; July 31, 2012