The Clinton City Board of Education made a wise move in extending superintendent Stuart Blount’s contract by another year, inking a deal that should keep him in place through at least 2017.
The decision does a couple of important things: one, it signals to the still relatively new schools chief that the Board of Education has confidence in his ability and the direction in which he is taking the system, and two, it sends a powerful message to the community and educators that his leadership within the city schools is strong and supported by its elected officials.
The extension also helps to stop what could easily have become a revolving door of leaders. As evidenced by past superintendent searches, sometimes finding a new leader is difficult and a good fit for a school system even more troublesome. So, when a system finds both, board members should do what they can to keep them.
While we understand that contracts can be broken, we believe Blount’s extension will only solidify his intentions to stick around for a while here in Clinton. We certainly hope so. Blount’s proven in his short tenure here that he can be an effective leader and a good listener, and he’s shown us that his heart belongs with the students the city school system is charged with educating, something we believe to be all-important in any educational leader.
He’s been a staunch supporter of the school system from the start, going head-to-head with county commissioners on issues he believed needed resolving, from school roofs to activity buses, never shying away from seeking what he believed was only fair and just for the city schools.
And while we’ve not always agreed with every decision he’s made, we’ve seen his logic and appreciated his tenacity in getting things done the way he believes they should be. Nor can we fault him for fighting for his system; in fact, we respect him immensely for doing so.
Perhaps just as importantly, we appreciate the positives we are witnessing from within Clinton City Schools, from improving test scores to a more open and welcoming approach to dealing with parents and community members, giving them all a stronger sense of being a part, something desperately needed to ensure the best education possible for all children.
We credit Blount for the improvements we are seeing, and we thank him for working so tenaciously to bring about those methodical, albeit sometimes slow, changes we have seen taking place at each of the five schools.
Another important aspect of the contract extension was what we perceived to be the board’s evaluation process. Through private, it’s an evaluation process that is an important communication tool between the board and their educational leader. Blount cannot know if he’s following the path the school board wants if members don’t tell him, and what better way than through an evaluation that shows what he’s doing right, where improvements need to be made and what future goals need to be set and met.
Given that the school board unanimously voted to extend his contract an additional year following that evaluation process, shows us — and Blount — that their confidence is high in his leadership.
We concur with that evaluation.