Four More Years?

editorial-logo3This week the Department of Education met for the first voting meeting in the New Year. On the agenda was the extension of the contract for Director of Schools in Jefferson County. On a 6-1 vote, the School Board approved a four year contract for current Director of Schools, Charles Edmonds. I expect that their decision will cause a ripple in the force for some members of the County Commission. Like any public figure, Edmonds has his supporters and detractors. The Jefferson County Post is turning three years old on January 31st and I have watched Dr. Edmonds direct the local school system for the most of his tenure in office. Do I agree with every move that Edmonds has made while in office? Of course not. However the assessment of job performance should not be based on the individual links in his chain of authority but, rather, how strong the chain is as a whole.

Edmonds took office already swimming up stream in water littered with the bodies of Directors past, and there were several of them. Were things as smooth as we would have liked? Probably not, but as a County we were on a losing streak and our students were paying the educational price for our choices. He inherited his central office staff and, frankly, some were not adept at management of personnel which left Edmonds with a public relations nightmare right out of the box. The building program was a hot button point in the community and with the Commission and he was the face man for the Department of Education. All of this is just a reminder of where he started.

Now, we are in the mist of the building program and the waters, while still choppy, have settled significantly. He has made some changes in the Central Office that have soothed some of the abrasions and Edmonds is more comfortable navigating the community and its idiosyncrasies. As an administrator, he knows how to delegate and that is a positive. He is not a micro manager and he has a common sense approach that comes with being comfortable in administration. Edmonds knows the ins and outs of the State Department of Education and that plays well for Jefferson County. Strides have been made in academics during his tenure and he doesn’t mind being the bottom line.

Continuity is important in education. Teachers are already submerged in evaluations and testing and the State Department of Education is constantly changing its procedures and expectations. They need less paperwork and more support. Less stress and more money. I have hopes that Edmonds is working to facilitate their needs. Is there a chance that there will be an elected superintendent of schools on the horizon? It is possible, but highly unlikely before Edmonds four year contract expires. The Legislature must agree and the County Commission must agree and the voting public must agree and then there must be an election. I feel safe in assuming that we will be in the process of searching for another director of schools before anyone pushes a button for an elected superintendent.

Would I have given Dr. Charles Edmonds four more years at the helm of Jefferson County Department of Education? The relationship with a director of schools is much like a marriage. It looks great at the onset, everyone looks good on paper. But can the two mesh? Can they let go of previous baggage and expectations to form a real, functioning partnership, complete with warts and candy? Do the good days and decisions outnumber the bad? Is there a common goal and commitment?

Would I have given Edmonds four more years? Yes.

Now he has the time and he knows the waters. There is certainly work to be done and adjustments to be made. Let’s see what he can do.

Source: K. Depew, News Director