April 3, 2014

Rock Hill school board could name superintendent Friday

The Rock Hill school board will meet Friday to discuss the three superintendent finalists and perhaps vote to negotiate with one of them to be the next superintendent of Rock Hill schools.

An assistant superintendent from Fort Mill, a superintendent from Pickens County and a superintendent from New Jersey have visited Rock Hill over the past two weeks, and on Friday, the school board could name one to be the next superintendent of Rock Hill schools.

The school board will meet at 10 a.m. and go into executive session, which likely will last several hours, chairman Jim Vining said. When they come out of executive session, he said, the goal is to vote to negotiate a contract with one of the three finalists.

The hunt for a new superintendent began seven months ago, after then-Superintendent Lynn Moody announced she was leaving in August to lead the Rowan-Salisbury School System in North Carolina. The school board hired Coleman Lew & Associates, a Charlotte-based executive search firm, to recruit and screen candidates for the position.

In March, the board met for two days to conduct interviews with candidates identified by Coleman Lew, then narrowed that list down to three finalists.

Tommy Schmolze of Fort Mill, Kelly Pew of Pickens County and Rich O’Malley of Edison, N.J., each spent a day or two in Rock Hill over the past two weeks, meeting with administrators and board members and visiting schools. Each candidate also participated in a community forum with teachers, students, staff members and community members, during which they could ask whatever questions they wanted.

These visits were as much about the candidates getting to know Rock Hill as they were about the people of Rock Hill getting to know the candidates, Vining has said.

During his visit, Schmolze, who has spent his entire professional career in schools in York County, emphasized his enthusiasm about his work as an administrator and his desire to help take Rock Hill to the next level.

Last week, Pew showed she had done her research on Rock Hill schools. She talked a lot about initiatives instituted in Pickens County that she’d like to bring to Rock Hill and talked about how today’s schools need to be making students career-, college- and citizenship-ready.

On Wednesday, O’Malley focused on his experience with large-scale technology implementation and improving student success, as well as his financial know-how – all skills he said he would like to bring to Rock Hill. For O’Malley, moving his family to Rock Hill is as much about making a big change in lifestyle as it is about a new job.

When the finalists were announced in March, Vining said that whomever was selected probably wouldn’t start until summer, because school districts are in the middle of preparing and finalizing their budgets for the 2014-15 school year, so the new superintendent would need to stay put to complete that process.

Since Moody’s departure in August, John Taylor, a former Rock Hill administrator and superintendent of Lancaster County schools, has been interim superintendent.

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