Editorial: WPSB needs to use wisdom in replacement search process

A unique opportunity is facing Webster Parish Schools. As the 2016-17 school year winds down, the system is faced with the task of replacing Superintendent Dan Rawls, who retired effective April 20. Johnny Rowland has been named interim and appears to be vying for the job permanently.

Before anyone makes a decision on who should lead our school system, let’s look at a few facts that must be addressed as we move forward:

According to niche.com, Webster Parish ranks 50th out of Louisiana’s 72 school districts. Niche is a website that rigorously analyzes dozens of public data sets and millions of reviews to produce comprehensive rankings, report cards, and profiles for every K-12 school, college, and neighborhood in the U.S.

According to WalletHub, Louisiana Ranks at the bottom of all states when is comes to public (K-12) education. WalletHub’s findings are often quoted in many national publications and websites.

So, Webster Parish ranks 50th in the state that ranks last in the nation. Couple that with declining public school enrollment, and you have a recipe for disaster. Something must change.

It is important the members of the Webster Parish School Board know that status quo is no longer acceptable. We are failing our kids, as well as failing our communities and our economy.

There are many challenges to improving public education in Webster Parish. Just because the road is difficult doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be traveled. Our schools need strong leadership with not only the vision for a successful future, but the ability to execute that vision.

These are the qualities our school board members need to see from qualified applicants for superintendent. Then, they should select the best person for the job, whether they are part of current leadership, or from the outside. To be honest, we do not know who may be the best choice to replace Rawls — it may be Rowland, or someone who has yet to apply.

The 12 people who were elected to make decisions on behalf of our kids hold the keys to unlocking the full potential of our school system.

With all the obstacles to improving our schools coming from places like the state and federal government, the last place we need to add obstacles is within our own school district.

We strongly encourage our school board members to research and make the best decision possible when it comes to naming a new school superintendent. Be prepared for resistance, because change always faces resistance.

Let us use this opportunity to take a giant leap in the right direction in Webster Parish. The road will be long and difficult for whoever takes the reins. But the path to success is often an uphill climb.

Do what is right. Make the most informed decision. It is what you were elected (and are being paid) to do.

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